Jennifer, Chris and Brad light up the O2!
Wow! First full day at C2C and what a day! My day began with Martha Healy kicking things off in the Water Margin, a name I wasn’t familiar with before the start of today but I really enjoyed her set. She had a sweet voice and had a great set of self penned songs. That’s what I love about the pop-ups they introduce you to upcoming artists you may not have heard before. And another act that took me by surprise came an hour or so later on the Town Square stage, Miss Winter. This Swedish girl group drew a fairly large crowd and it’s no wonder, their voices were powerful and they sounded pitch perfect. Again they brought a set of self penned songs and made them come to life on that stage. They are definitely ones to keep an eye out for!
The main stage was kicked off by none other than Jennifer Nettles who was the artist I was most looking forward to this weekend. She has released two solo albums to date but is probably best known as one half of the duo Sugarland. She has had a successful and lengthy career and I was keen to know before hand how she was feeling about performing at C2C. When I asked her whether she still gets nervous when performing or if she lets her mind wander as it comes naturally she replied saying “I still get nervous depending on the performance…but I’ve done it for so long I just get adrenalised and enjoy the moment. I will confess there are songs that I’ve played for a very long time and I may be in the middle of “Stay” and – I’m sorry I’m saying this as it’s such an emotional song – I find myself thinking of a laundry list!” Well, that song was on the setlist tonight and whatever she was thinking, the emotion in her voice and her facial expressions was just beautiful. Similarly, Unlove You, was performed flawlessly. Jennifer showed off her vocal abilities very well towards the end of this number which is off her latest record. She opened her set with the title track Playing With Fire and besides the two songs I’ve previously mentioned the rest of the set was at this tempo. It really was a high energy performance and she really seemed to enjoy herself as did the crowd. Drunk In Heels was my favourite off the record and it was my favourite tonight also. Nettles who has recently tried her hand at acting, playing Dolly Parton’s mum in Coat of Many Colours and it’s sequel, really shone tonight, it was great to hear the record come to life and a wise move to play a few Sugarland songs there.
Nettles was swiftly followed by Chase bryant, introduced to the room by Britain’s own Country twins Ward Thomas. He played a couple of songs on the yamaha stage including single Take It On Back. This guy can really sing and he tried to connect with the audience and get them involved which seemed to work lower down near the stage. It was a shame we only heard two songs from him as I really enjoyed his sound, again he’s a new name to me and not one I’m going to forget. Bob Harris once again did an excellent job of introducing acts and chatting about the festival and what’s going on over the three days. He’s the face or the voice of Country music in the UK so it’s wonderful to see him year on year doing his very best for artists both in the UK and US.
Chris Young took to the main stage after a short break. Now I first saw him back at C2C 2014 and I really enjoyed his set back then but I really feel that it was on a whole new level this year. Before the show he spoke of his fastest number one hit and his slowest, in total he has nine and the audience enjoyed listening to a fair few of them tonight. The highlight judging from the crowds reaction was when he brought out Cassadee Pope to sing Think Of You. Though by his own admission, ballads is what he does best, there were a number of uptempo songs that got the crowd going such as Aw Naw which he played when BBC Radio 2 tuned in to tonight’s entertainment. I think one of the highlights for me was when he sung a cover of Keith Whitley’s When You Say Nothing At All. His vocals really conveyed the emotion of this song. I do really love that strong accent when he sings.
Once again we went to the yamaha stage in the break where Cam was poised ready to play and have a good time! She began with My Mistake, Half Broke Heart followed and she concluded with Burning House which was just sublime especially when the audience sung it back to her and she squealed with delight, so nice to see artists genuinely surprised by an audience knowing all the lyrics.
Now someone at uni once said to me that Country music is simple and boring, “it’s literally the same three chords over and over again, they don’t know how to play their instruments…” Well they obviously never met Brad Paisley! That man and his guitars, and didn’t he have a few? I think he had that many he couldn’t fit them all on the bus and so had to give one away! Joking aside that was a touching moment when halfway through This is country Music he put down his acoustic, signed it and then gave it to a young fan with the words “learn how to play it… that’s how Taylor Swift’s are made!” He went on to say, “we’re going to play all the songs you want, and some you don’t want!” And he did play a lot of songs and the crowd loved every one. Hits such as Then and Today were included, I’m Still A Guy which he brought Chris Young back on to sing with him. He played a lovely mash up of We Danced and Whisky Lullaby. That was an intimate moment in his set, I mean Whisky Lullaby means so much to such a lot of people, it was bound to be included in the set somewhere. I think one of the highlights of his set though was when he walked through the crowd, still singing and playing and he came up onto the Yamaha stage and sang a brand new song which was hilarious! The whole audience was in uproar as he sang about Selfies, I mean the funniest part and potentially the saddest part is that every word was true in today’s society. I think that shows his versatility as an artist though, to be able to do something like Whiskey Lullaby, a very serious and deep song to funny like that or Online which he also played tonight. Visually the strobe lighting and the backdrops added to the whole performance and I especially liked it when he “Facetimed” Carrie Underwood and they did a duet of Remind Me.
Over all it was a fantastic evening, I mean you could not fault any of tonight’s artists and you know what? We have two more days to go so it can only get better. Don’t forget to check out what’s going on around the arena on Saturday and Sunday, Town Square was buzzing today there’s so much going on there and obviously you have a stage right in the market. Some of you lucky fans will be venturing off to see some fantastic songwriters at the Bluebird sessions and we’ll hopefully bring you all the latest from the press room! More photos to follow.