Miranda Lambert's first performance in front of a live audience since the COVID-19 pandemic began was an emotional one. She sang at the famous honky-tonk Billy Bobs in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday (April 23), the first of three shows she had there over the weekend.

Billy Bob’s holds a special place in the singer’s heart: Lambert would perform there often before she became an A-list artist. She hadn't been back to play there in nearly a decade before her mini-residency.

Getting to perform for a live audience again — after more than a year away from fans — must hit hard. As she's done before, Lambert teared up when she began her emotional song "The House That Built Me," though it seemed to hit extra hard this time. It's a significant song about her upbringing and getting to this point in her career, so when thinking about singing the song in a venue that helped make her, she was taken aback.

Concertgoer Alex Ayers caught the intimate moment of Lambert overcome with emotion on video and talked to Taste of Country about the atmosphere surrounding it:

Ayers said up until that point, the venue had been filled with excited energy. Her pulling out a slower song — one so personal — hit home for many.

"We get to 'House That Built Me' … everything was going very smoothly. She got through the first verse and as soon as she got to the words, 'the house that built me," she couldn’t get it out," Ayers explains.

Due to COVID-19 regulations, fans were asked to stay seated for the duration of the show, but the crowd couldn't help but stand and cheer when Lambert welled up.

"The whole place stood up and started cheering for her," Ayers recalls. "Everyone sang the entire song for her because it lasted [tearing up] the entire song … everyone was feeling it."

It was a sentimental moment for the singer, who told the audience that she had gotten to see her handprints that she had imprinted at Billy Bob's back in 2005 (She would leave more in 2012 with her band Pistol Annies).

So, between getting to perform in front of an audience after a year without and being in a venue that felt like home, Lambert was overcome with gratitude.

While it meant a lot to her to have her fans sing along, Ayers notes it meant a lot to her fans to watch Lambert’s reaction. They felt the singer's sincerity and that she really cares about her fans.

Once Lambert got out the last line of the song, fans sat down again, and she turned to fellow country singer Gwen Sebastian who helped dry her teary eyes with a towel. From that point on, Ayers says that Lambert had high energy and joked with the crowd that she knew that was going to happen at some point in the night.

Lambert will return to her old stomping grounds again on May 1 and 2.

Flip through the photo gallery below for some of Lambert's biggest moments through the years:

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