Country music star David Nail brought the fire to the Majestic Theatre Friday night, delivering a brilliant performance in support of his new album I’m a Fire. In this installment of his Country Deep Tour, Nail had the crowd mesmerized by his trademark intensity. The artist is known for pouring his heart and soul into his performances, and he certainly did just that this weekend in Madison. Nail set the crowd ablaze with each song, displaying the deep emotional connection he possesses with his music and with songwriting.

Leading up to Nail’s performance, young country artist Cale Dodds enlivened the packed theatre with his energy and undeniable charm. He said it was his first show in Madison. He said that “the cherry has popped,” which elicited instant approval from the crowd of tipsy 20-somethings. Though this rising artist is still not quite widely known in the country music world, his performance at the Majestic Friday night seemed to prove the opposite. With each song, Dodds appeared incredibly comfortable on stage and reveled in the limelight. Each member of his four-man band animatedly jammed out, feeding off the energy of the enthused crowd. Dodds commented on the amiability of the people he’d encountered in Madison since his arrival to the city that afternoon. And to perhaps test his point he had the crowd raise their hands in the air to high-five someone around them they didn’t know. The audience somewhat bashfully assented but visibly appreciated Dodds for his spontaneity and charisma. What further transfixed the theatre was Dodds’s performance of his song “Say Yes,” before which he explained his desire to find that special someone. He described how, as a 25-year-old single man, he’s still searching for the one who’ll stop him dead in his tracks, acknowledging that, “I’ll find it one day, I’m just not there yet.” That was it. Dodds had won over the crowd.

And it was on that note that main attraction David Nail made his way to the stage, where he found a crowd high on Cale Dodds and his pleasantries. Nail jokingly complained, “Everyone here is so beautiful and so damn young, makin’ me feel old.” His quip made him all the more endearing, and though he didn’t interact with the crowd quite as much as the spirited Dodds, it didn’t matter. The audience loved him. Throughout each song he performed, Nail emanated an incredible passion for music unlike any artist I’ve seen before. And after such a sprightly opening performance, the crowd was now stunned to near silence by Nail’s remarkable intensity. What makes Nail’s performances so breathtaking is the way he seems to play from afar. He appears distant and somehow manages to remove himself from the theater; he’s clearly transported by the music. His eyes remained locked for at least half of each song, demonstrating a stunning depth of emotion and personal connection with the music he was playing. The intensity escalated as Nail began to tune his guitar in preparation for one of his most popular songs, “Whatever She’s Got.” He had strum out but a few notes when the crowd instantly detected the song and consequently began to belt out the lyrics in unison. Nail simply stared out into the audience, awe-struck and marveling at the beauty of the scene as the crowd sang out the chorus sans instrumentals, sans Nail. The artist admitted, “That was special. God bless you,” before diving into perhaps the most memorable song of the night.

While Nail and Dodds have distinctive styles of performing, both artists of the evening certainly ignited the Majestic in their own right. Dodds captivated the crowd with his lovable charm and Nail amazed with his deep sentiment for music and an unparalleled level of soul, making for an unforgettable start to what is sure to be a memorable tour.