Nashville recap: Live From the Ryman Auditorium

In a live concert special, the cast of Nashville takes the stage to perform some of the show's biggest songs
Ep. | Aired Apr 23, 2014

Mark Levine/ABC

This week, things looked a little different in Nashville. There was less drama, less fake blood, and a whole lot more music. That's probably because it was time for the show's first-ever concert special, and I have to tell you, it went a lot better than I expected. It's not as though I expected anyone to suck, but performing live at the historic Ryman Auditorium is a big deal, and these actors really impressed me. Not only did they have fun, but they sounded really good. Special shout-out to Hayden Panettiere for killing her first ever big live performance! And another special shout-out to Clare Bowen for doing the whole thing barefoot (like a boss)!

Here's how I ranked the performances, from best to worst:

Song: "Black Roses"
Performed by: Clare Bowen
Thoughts: This was one of Clare Bowen's last numbers on stage, so she had already become well acquainted with the crowd at this point. But it's not like that mattered -- her voice sounded amazing from the first note she hit earlier in the night. I'm not the biggest Scarlett fan in general, but Bowen does have a good voice, and she just dominated this song. I was so caught up in her performance that I only had time to write down four words in my notes section, and they were: "Damn she is good." And that's precisely why she got a standing ovation.

Song: "Nothing In This World"
Performed by: Hayden Panettiere, Kate York, Sarah Buxton
Thoughts: I was nervous going into this, because it was obvious how nervous Panettiere was, but she did not take one wrong step. Joined on stage by songwriters York and Buxton, the harmonies were gorgeous, and by the middle of the song, Panettiere had gotten so comfortable that she went even bigger with some of the notes. I think I actually like her voice better live than I do on the show, and that's saying something. (Plus, let's be real, she got points for how adorable and excited she was after it was over.)

Song: "It's On Tonight"
Performed by: Charles Esten, Will Chase, Chris Carmack
Thoughts: This performance was by far the most fun. These guys had a damn good time up on that stage, and they sounded good too. This was the definition of three guys just hanging out and enjoying themselves. I was impressed with how deep Chase's voice was, as well as with how comfortable he seemed on stage. And the harmonies? Yes please. Charles Esten won best note of the performance, but Chase definitely won best laugh. Nobody hit a bad note. Talk about charisma ... sheesh.

Song: "Don't Put Dirt on My Grave Just Yet"
Performed by: Hayden Panettiere
Thoughts: Panettiere's second time on stage was pure enjoyment. She was comfortable, and she was rocking out. And somehow, through all of her dancing and jumping, she still sounded great.

Song: "I Ain't Leavin' Without Your Love"
Performed by: Chaley Rose, Sam Palladio, Jonathan Jackson
Thoughts: Chaley Rose started off just a little shaky. She sounded fine, but you could tell she was nervous. However, from that first Palladio-Jackson harmony, I had chills. In fact, I'm naming Jackson the MVP of this performance. He wasn't the loudest, but his harmonies were spot on. And they all get points for their adorable "ZAG" cheer before they went on stage.

Song: "If I Didn't Know Better"
Performed by: Sam Palladio, Clare Bowen
Thoughts: Vocally, this song was one of the more difficult, and both Bowen and Palladio hit some pretty impressive high notes. Their chemistry was solid, though obviously less romantic than it is on TV, and I walked away without any real complaints. That being said, it wasn't the most memorable.

Song: "This Town"
Performed by: Charles Esten, Clare Bowen
Thoughts: I love this song. I've never been to Nashville, and I love this song. That's how good it is. And I love both Bowen and Esten. However, I was just the tiniest bit disappointed with this performance. I was expecting it to be my favorite, but I don't think they ever truly found their groove. Individually, they both sounded great, but the blending could've been better. Then again, it's entirely possible that my expectations were too high. Regardless, it was a darn good performance.

Song: "A Life That's Good"
Performed by: Everyone
Thoughts: Huge group performances are always fun, but sound-wise, impossible to critique. There aren't any actual harmonies going on, and everyone's just having a good time. But hey, there's nothing wrong with that.

What did you all think of the performances? Is Hayden Panettiere officially the cutest person in the world? Sound off in the comments!

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