Charles Esten / Chris Carmack / Clare Bowen / CMT / Nashville

CMT’s Nashville In Concert Tour Performs at the Grand Ole Opry for the First and Last Time

Photo credit: Chris Hollo / Hollo Photographics

After six seasons, Nashville, the television drama inspired by its namesake, comes to an end. And for the first — and last — time, the cast brought their “Nashville In Concert” tour to the show’s hometown, performing for a sold-out crowd at none other than the Grand Ole Opry.

“We have had six beautiful years in this fantastic city,” Chris Carmack said following an intriguing opening number of “Even If It Break Your Heart,” performed by himself along with Charles Esten, Clare Bowen, Jonathan Jackson, Sam Palladio and Lennon and Maisy Stella. “We’ve played here at the Grand Ole Opry many times; it’s been the heart and soul of our show, you have been the heart and soul of our show.”

Already fans knew that they were in for a night full of sing-alongs, celebrations and, most importantly, farewells.

“This is in many ways sort of an evening of goodbyes, and tonight we have a lot of goodbyes to say, particularly to the characters we’ve known and loved,” Carmack said.

And that’s exactly what the night brought: each performer bidding goodbyes to their television character in such a way that also allowed the audience, the fans, to bid farewells, too.

Photo credit: Chris Hollo / Hollo Photographics

After the opening number of “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” which was the first song to ever appear on the show Nashville, Carmack broke into a solo performance of “What If I Was Willing.” He then welcomed to the stage Palladio, with whom he claims to have shared “the best bromance on television” with. Side-by-side the two collaborated on “Right Where You Want Me” before transitioning into “Adios Old Friend.”

The show followed a routine throughout its entirety that allowed each performer a solo and, sometimes, a collaboration with other cast members. The Last Highways, a Nashville band comprised of Carmack, Palladio, Jackson and Rainee Blake, collaborated on multiple songs, including “Smoking The Boys” and a very groovy version of “Go With It.” Another collaboration not to be overlooked was “Hand to Hold,” an upbeat track performed by Bowen and Esten, during which both artists mosied on out into the audience.

Of course, a generous amount of time was devoted to the Stella sisters, allowing audience members the chance to experience the duo’s rich harmonies in-person. Together they sang a cover of Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s “Lean On,” which was followed by Nashville-favorite “In Love.”

Photo credit: Chris Hollo / Hollo Photographics

Lennon and Maisy weren’t the only artists to sing a cover track; in fact, Jackson performed a riveting cover of “Unchained Melody,” showcasing his ability to belt each lyric as it floated from his lips to listeners’ ears. A very well-deserved standing ovation immediately followed.

This particular tour stop also allowed several cast members to make their Opry debut. First — Jake Etheridge.

“I’m amazed to be here tonight,” Etheridge said before performing a slow-tempoed track entitled “Bring Me An Angel.”

Etheridge was followed by two more Opry debuts: Nic Luken and Kaitlin Doubleday, who serves as Esten’s current love interest on the show.

“Nashville In Concert” wouldn’t be complete without a tribute to the late Rayna James, though. Luckily, Esten delivered in a solo performance of “Sideshow.”

As the concert neared its end, Esten welcomed Bowen, Lennon and Maisy back to the stage for an uplifting performance of “Friend of Mine.” They exited the stage after the song concluded, but the audience demanded their return by rising to their feet in the forming of a standing ovation.

One-by-one, each artist who performed earlier in the show strolled back onto the Opry stage, and that’s when the cast left their audience with “A Life That’s Good.”

“You guys have been unbelievable. I don’t just mean now, I mean for six years,” Esten said. “Even though the show is ending now, I want you to take it with you in your hearts.”

Judging by the reactions to “Nashville In Concert,” fans’ hearts are exactly where Nashville will remain.

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