Starting her first arena-headlining tour in mid-January Minnesota sure was brave for Texas singer Kacey Musgraves. So was keeping the date, despite the spread of omicron.

Those bold moves, however, paled beside what it took for the country-turned-pop star to open up about her divorce and share her pain Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center — a special kind of concert for audience members who've probably gone through their own struggles of late.

Just being at a live music event seemed to go a long way in lifting the spirits of the 9,000 or so attendees. Turnout was good considering the show fell on a subzero weeknight during another COVID surge with St. Paul's citywide mask mandate the only real safety measure in place.

"Holy [bleep], we're outta the house!" Musgraves, 33, cheered early in the 90-minute performance, setting the theme for the night.

"I just want us all to have fun, even though I made a pretty depressing album."

That record, "Star-Crossed," was largely inspired by her divorce from fellow singer/songwriter Ruston Kelly after 2½ years of marriage. She never mentioned him during the show, nor the D-word, but the several F-bombs she dropped to set up her heartache-y new songs were pretty specific.

The concert literally started with a burning heart. The fiery stage prop lit up behind Musgraves after she walked out under blood-red lights to sing the record's mellow and capital-M-melancholy title track. Soon, LED wristbands given to fans on their way in also came to life in the same heart-colored tone.

That dazzling display was the first of several moments in the show when bright and just plain pretty visual elements offset the darker songs. Other optic highlights included rainbow lights and lasers that bathed the arena several times (including, of course, during the song "Rainbow"), plus a waterfall of rose petals that cascaded over Musgraves as she sang the Chilean ultra-ballad "Gracias a la Vida."

Musgraves also perked up the crowd by pulling heavily from her previous album, the way-more-up-tempo "Golden Hour," which won a Grammy for album of the year in 2019. She played five of its songs (including "Butterflies," "Lonely Weekend" and "Space Cowboy") back-to-back mid-set, while saving "Slow Burn" and "Rainbow" for the encore.

Musgraves shined without all the production pizazz, too. One of her saddest new songs, "Hookup Scene," became the night's emotional high point when she performed it with just acoustic guitar under plain stage lights.

That's also how she delivered her 2013 breakout hit "Merry Go 'Round," the only song offered from her first two major-label albums — another sign she's moving further away from her country roots. With performances as moving as Wednesday's, though, who cares?

Further proof of Musgraves living outside the Nashville bubba bubble came in her choice of opening acts: King Princess and MUNA, genre-defying electronic rock acts who both made excited shout-outs to gay audience members and dropped in some brash, colorful language.

King Princess (Mikaela Strauss), in particular, seemed to be trying too hard for shock value in their clunky song about female anatomy, but the on-the-verge New Yorker, 23, grabbed the crowd by the you-know-whats in the Nilsson-meets-St.-Vincent love song "Talia" and the buoyant hit "1950."

Kacey Musgraves' set list

  • Star-Crossed
  • Good Wife
  • Cherry Blossom
  • Simple Times
  • Breadwinner
  • Golden Hour
  • Butterflies
  • Lonely Weekend
  • Space Cowboy
  • High Horse
  • Camera Roll
  • Hookup Scene
  • Merry Go 'Round
  • No Scrubs (TLC cover delivered "Kacey-oke" style)
  • Justified
  • There Is a Light
  • Gracias a la Vida
  • Slow Burn
  • Rainbow