CMAs Come Alive
Typically, watching an arena-sized awards show in person is more an experience of seeing how the sausage is made than it is of feeling closer to the action. The lighting, production and onstage antics are all crafted to look and sound better on camera than they do in person, and rarely do the one-take live-music-video-like performances lift the fans in the flesh to a fever-pitch moment of collective transcendence. But Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake did exactly that, over and over again for eight minutes and six seconds, as they traded licks and verses on a double-shot of Stapleton's heartsick country waltz "Tennessee Whiskey" chased with Timberlake's slinky, sad-bastard modern-funk classic "Drink You Away." The crowd inside Bridgestone Arena had no idea what to expect going into this pairing, and were thoroughly taken by surprise by what they got. Some jaws hit the floor, while others widened to let out cheers and screams, and by the end everyone in the house was breathless. This performance wasn't a glossy, glorified TV taping, but rather an incredible mini-concert busting at the seams. A.G.