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Five thoughts: Chris Stapleton at MGM Grand Garden (March 23)

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Five-time Grammy-winning country music star Chris Stapleton wowed a near-capacity crowd of about 16,000 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 23. The 18-song, two-hour-long performance included Stapleton’s latest radio single and current No. 1 hit “Broken Halos”; Billboard-charting songs “Tennessee Whiskey,” “Fire Away” and “Nobody to Blame”; and recent hits “Either Way” and “I Was Wrong.” Here are five more takeaways:

He brought the hits out early Very early, in fact. After opening with “Might As Well Get Stoned,” Stapleton belted “Fire Away,” “Nobody to Blame” and “Broken Halos” all within the first hour of his show. Only “Tennessee Whisky” came in during the second half.

But the crowd never stopped singing Stapleton’s fans, like many diehard country music supporters, seemed to know the words to just about every song culled from his three studio albums: 2015's Traveller and last year’s two-volume From A Room. With guitar solos and instrumentals lasting as long as six minutes, viewers at Friday’s show were also treated to a spectacular range of musical genius from the 39-year-old Kentucky native.

He found a way to make a large show intimate At times, the crowd of 16,000 felt more like 500, thanks in part to Stapleton’s simple stage setup and quiet, humble demeanor. The show also exhibited vintage Stapleton in the sense that there was less talking from the stage and more music (and sips of whisky in between songs instead of banter).

He seems to love Las Vegas Stapleton, who played in last year’s iHeartRadio Music Festival and Academy of Country Music Awards show, as well as the 2016 Route 91 Harvest Festival, said the Las Vegas Valley was becoming “a second home. ... I’m always happy to be back here,” he told the crowd.

His wife sat this one out Morgane Stapleton, Chris’ wife since 2007, has long been his backup vocalist and helped co-write many of his songs. But while Morgane has sung by his side during his previous Las Vegas performances, she’s sitting out his most recent tour leg as she prepares to have twins--the couple’s third and fourth children--next month.

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Chris Kudialis started at the Las Vegas Sun in 2015 after a year with the Las Vegas Review-Journal. A graduate ...

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