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Maren Morris on Touring After the Pandemic and Why She Loves New York City

Maren Morris on Touring After the Pandemic and Why She Loves New York City

For country star Maren Morris, getting back on the road after two years away from touring was a relief. On Friday night, she headlined Radio City Music Hall, and near the end of the night, she expressed just how much she missed her fans when she was away. Wearing an ocean blue Giuseppe di Morabito dress with a sheer, iridescent skirt with feather detailing on the collar and sleeves and strappy heels by Schutz, she thanked the crowd for pushing her single “The Bones” to the heights of the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the depths of the pandemic.

In an interview before the show, Morris talked about how much had happened since she last took the stage at the famous concert hall in September 2019, and how glad she was to be back on the road. “I feel very lucky, because having it stripped away for two-and-a-half years—or more, actually—I kind of wondered if I would ever come back,” she said. “It’s just been so overwhelmingly positive.”

She was excited to have a busy weekend in New York City, which started on Thursday when she performed a selection of her hits for the Today show at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, wearing a sublime neon green suit from Jacquemus. After releasing her third album, Humble Quest, in March, Morris got back on the road in June, and, during her early shows, she was adjusting to playing songs she didn’t get to “road test” beforehand. 

“I listened to the mixes of the record millions of times in my car but couldn’t really share them or tease them to a crowd or even play it live at a show to see if the songs worked,” she said. “That first show of the tour—it was me getting to see the crowd’s reaction to the songs for the first time.”

But by the time she was getting ready for a big weekend in New York City, she said she thought she could relax a bit more. She was also thinking of cherished memories from previous shows in the city. “The diversity of the crowd always blows me away, being rooted in country music and then coming to play a show in New York. I remember the first show I ever played there, we were at the Bowery, and I just had no idea what my crowd would look like,” she said. “There’s just nothing like the energy.”

She was also looking forward to visiting a few of her favorite spots in Manhattan. “New York City is such a melting pot, so I just always feel at home,” she said. “I feel like if I had a second place, it would be in New York City.” West Village stalwart Morandi and Altro Paradiso for the breakfast martinis were two of the places she was most looking forward to. “I feel like I’m a city girl, honestly. I feel like I thrive the most when I’m surrounded by buildings, shopping, and restaurants.”

For most of this tour, Morris has been traveling with her 2-year-old son, Hayes, who was born soon after the pandemic began. She said he was already becoming an accomplished traveler, but the tour dates were mostly confined to the weekends. “He still gets to sleep in his own bed during the week, so that’s kind of a nice reset,” she explained. “But now he’s seen every children’s museum and every zoo.”

She has relished the opportunity not to have to choose between performing and her family. “It’s fun being able to be onstage and do my thing for two hours, and then also get to be his mother,” she said. “I don’t have to split the two things apart, which is nice.” Hayes didn’t tag along during the New York weekend, but Morris’s husband, Ryan Hurd, did, and he joined her onstage to sing their clever duet from the album, “I Can’t Love You Anymore.”

Morris said she isn’t a big fan of packing so to reduce the stress, she and stylist Dani Michelle came up with a savvy system to keep all of her looks in order. “She pulled a ton of looks for stage and we just did like a two-hour fitting of a bunch of them and put, you know, shoes and accessories with each look,” she said. “Once we tailored everything that needed to be altered, we put everything in clear garment bags and put a photo of me from the fitting in that look on each of the garment bags.”

For Friday, she chose a particularly special look from the bunch: the Elle Woods–meets-mermaid dress by Giuseppe di Morabito. “We fit a ton of looks before Maren went on tour, and she was saving this for Radio City,” Michelle said in an email. “It was crystal and feather, sexy and fun, everything you would want to see onstage!” 

Morris’s preshow rituals usually involve checking out the venue to make sure everything is perfect and then unwinding while it’s time for hair and makeup. “No one bothers me, my son has already gone to bed by this point, so it’s just a really meditative two hours before the show,” she said. “Then I go out and blow my energy out.”

Sometimes she’ll put on an episode of a TV show, like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, or a podcast such as Megan Stalter’s Confronting Demons, and do her own makeup. But on Friday, makeup artist Katie Nova did the honors, giving her a multifaceted powder blue eye that matched her dress and a sumptuous nude lip. Her set of bouncing waves were done by Nashville-based hairstylist Marwa Bashir.

The show ended with an acoustic rendition of her first hit, “My Church,” on a balcony, which had the effect of turning the entire concert hall into a makeshift gospel choir. It was exactly what Morris had spent the pandemic hoping for. “Through COVID—and everything that was happening—even though I was trying to stay busy, it was so insular and you don’t get to have that human response. It’s just literally your own thoughts all day every day,” she said. “I just really missed being able to play my music for people who want to hear it.”

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