Brett Eldredge brought Christmas magic to the third and final night of his sold-out headlining run at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium on Sunday (Nov. 27). The three consecutive nights at the venue kicked off the singer’s 2022 The Glow Live Tour.
Strutting out onto the historic stage adorned with a 16-foot tree that changed color alongside red drapery, and glowing lampposts, Eldredge set a festive tone with his big band on the opening number, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” “It’s officially the start of the holiday season,” Eldredge remarked, drawing cheers from the crowd. He delivered on his promise that “we’re going to give you all we got” in a show that was as much about freedom of spirit as it was holiday cheer. “Allow yourself to be free,” Eldredge encouraged as he beckoned the audience to recall the “magic” of hearing holiday classics for the first time as a child.
In between holiday standards that included “Let it Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,” the country crooner interwove original songs like “Mr. Christmas,” “Glow” and “Feels Like Christmas,” along with personal stories. Eldredge shared how every year, he returns to his hometown of Paris, Illinois, for Christmas and recalls how he used to look up the weather online to see if they were going to have a white Christmas.
While introducing Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song,” which he describes as “one of the best recordings,” the tune called to mind a specific childhood memory of roasting chestnuts on a skillet with his uncle. “They taste really gross,” Eldredge quipped to laughs from the crowd about the reality of roasting chestnuts over an open fire as the opening line suggests. “But this is still one of the best songs ever.” Eldredge added his own flair to the beloved classic, elevating it with the big band sound and his enduring vocals.
Eldredge’s voice particularly shone on “Do You Hear What I Hear?” The song showed off his baritone vocals, which were as smooth as the glass of brandy he was sipping on throughout the show, which he also channeled into a beautiful rendition of the Carpenters’ “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”
The show was also a reflection of how much the man, dubbed “Mr. Christmas,” has grown, from performing his first Christmas show in the basement of Nashville club The Sutler for an audience of 100 people in 2016, to headlining three consecutive sold-out shows at the historic Ryman Auditorium in 2022. It all started with his original Christmas song, “Glow,” the title track of his 2016 debut Christmas album. The album fulfilled one of Eldredge’s longtime dreams of making a big band-style Christmas album. The opening notes of “Glow” earned elated cheers from fans in the audience as he sang, I love to watch you glow.
The show also took on a deeper meaning, as it allowed Eldredge to connect back with his childhood self. Eldredge has spoken openly about his experience living with anxiety and shared that he was particularly reserved growing up.
“There are a lot of things that are hard about being a shy kid,” he admitted, calling himself an “introvert” while also acknowledging that he feels “alive” onstage and often thinks about his childhood self while performing. Before a haunting performance of “Silent Night,” Eldredge fondly remembered how they’d pass out candles during “Silent Night” at church, he and his cousin still honoring the tradition to this day of holding their faces as close to the flame to see who can last the longest. “I love to play with fire,” he joked. He also noted how he felt a sense of “peace” singing “Silent Night,” a feeling he translated to the Ryman stage with his voice that was strong and steady as he stood drenched in the spotlights.
The singer shared that he can still envision himself as a boy singing in the church choir, overlooking the congregation as he sang “O Holy Night,” which led into one of the most stirring moments of the show. Eldredge infused emotion into every note, allowing the powerful lyrics and sacred atmosphere of the Ryman to take over, so much so that as he held the final notes, it almost seemed as though he transcended for a brief moment. The performance warranted a standing ovation. “That’s the most that one’s ever gotten me before,” he shared.
Wishing the magic of the season upon the engaged crowd, Eldredge returned for a two-song encore, beginning with “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” which he dedicated to those struggling this time of year. But there was no better gift Eldredge could have left the audience with than the way he closed the show with “The First Noel.” Stepping back from the microphone and standing vulnerably at the front of the stage, Eldredge stripped away the festive theatrics and shared how he wanted to leave the audience with a “beautiful message” that’s “so gentle.” A hush fell over the hallowed hall as he sang “The First Noel” a cappella, the audience entranced by his voice that shone in its purest form, especially as he spoke his final words: “Merry Christmas, I love you all.”
Eldredge continues on The Glow Live Tour throughout December, with stops in Washington, D.C., New York City, and other major cities before the closing night in Boston, Massachusetts, on December 21.
Photo Credit: Hayley Gjertsen