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Little Big Town Tap Chris Stapleton, Sam Hunt for ‘The Breaker’ Show at Ryman Auditorium

That happened! @chrisstapleton joins @littlebigtown at #TheRyman! Plus more photos. #littlebigtown #samhunt

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Little Big Town left the hits at home for the majority of Friday night’s set at the Ryman Auditorium. The group instead played their new album The Breaker front to back with one or two, very notable interruptions.

It was a risk. The new songs are not only unfamiliar to most fans — the album did only drop on Friday (Feb. 24) after all — but they’re not built for a rollicking live show. Ballads and moody, nostalgic, pop-folk songs are at the heart of it, making for a slow start. However Little Big Town know one rule of live country music: if you’re going to fill a show with previously unheard ballads make sure you have Sam Hunt and Chris Stapleton on call.

Each singer jolted the opening show of LBT’s 2017 Ryman Auditorium residency with energy the group could easily carry forward. Hunt played his single “Body Like a Back Road” after the nostalgic “We Went to the Beach,” track six from The Breaker. “Rollin'” is an uptempo, soulful track that’s straight down the group’s Main St. After that, the foursome cruised to the close of the album with four ballads that included “Don’t Die Young, Don’t Get Old,” inspired by Jimi Westbrook’s sister’s battle with cancer.

In large part the show was aimed at the purest Little Big Town fan, with several stop downs to show gratitude and thank the writers in the Ryman balcony. Saturday night’s set is going to be similar. Don’t count on Stapleton, although don’t count him out. His presence was foreshadowed by LBT starting an a cappella version of “Tennessee Whiskey,” his signature, ACM nominated song. Soon his thick vocals were being matched by thick guitar licks and the rest of the group was bowing down as the crowed shouted for more. And more he gave ’em. “Front Porch Thing” (co-written by Stapleton) followed before the hits started to flow.

Through 75 minutes Little Big Town played one of their own radio hits, the chart-topping “Better Man.” “Pontoon,” “Tornado,” “Boondocks” and “Girl Crush” helped close a meaningful show for this ACM nominated group. Fans who were there for the new album (some did not know of this plan) were on their feet by the end.

Watch: The Most Unforgettable Little Big Town Moments

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Next: Read ToC' Review of 'The Breaker'

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