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Country 2 Country Day 1!

I’m struggling to find the words to sum up the first day of C2C 2018! It doesn’t get much better than that does it? My day began (after I’d checked out the signed CDs) at The Shires album playback. I’m not sure how much I’m allowed to tell you but from the four or five songs they played to us album three is shaping up to be a belter! I know they have already had quite a lot of success but I really think Accidentally on Purpose may make them a household name in the UK and across the pond. It features songs written by Ed Sheeran, Liz Rose and Jeff Cohen to name a few! It was an enjoyable event hearing them talk to Bob Harris about how they created this record and the stories behind some of the songs. Afterwards I headed off to interview Lindsay Ell so keep your eyes peeled for that! I’ve been very fortunate so far to interview two really genuine and lovely ladies who are both unbelievably talented. I then headed towards a packed out Town Square, you couldn’t move and I couldn’t see but I heard Delta Rae who went down a storm with the crowd. The group who are signed to big machine have had success in the States recently with their single There’s no Peace in Quiet. I never managed to get into the Indigo today but as I walked past, all the fire escapes were open and High Valley were just finishing their set to thunderous applause from what appeared to be a full house! Press conferences followed from Old Dominion who had the press room in uproar and Kelsea Ballerini (again, stay tuned!)

On to the main arena and Old Dominion kicked off the show. These boys all have such big personalities and this comes across in their music and when they’re on stage, they have so much energy and they just look like they’re having the best time! They were so tight as a band, flawless in their performance. I’ve heard people say, they’re not my cup of country and they’re not really my cup of country either however they have become one of my favourite acts to see live. They played all the big hits including their recent number 1 Written In The Sand. They also played my favourite song off Happy Endings, Not Everything’s About You and their first single off that record No Such Thing As A Broken Heart. But they also played all the big hitters from their debut album Meat and Candy such as Break Up With Him and Snapback which the crowd sang along to loudly.

After Bob has asked the crowd to give Old Dominion another round of applause he introduces Morgan Evans on the Satellite Stage. I interviewed Morgan back at Buckle and Boots, his first time in the UK and he was telling me how nervous he was to play for the first time in the UK with his loop pedal. I wonder how his nerves were, playing with his loop pedal in the O2 Arena! He introduced his “band” as he built up his loops before stopping them and going into Kiss Somebody that performed well on the charts recently. As he played the song he began to bring those loops back in until it really did sound like there was a band on stage with him. The second song he played was a song he’d written after his first visit to the UK it was an upbeat number that talked about drinking and generally having a good time… well we do know how to do that in the UK don’t we? He interacted really well with the audience as well. He was excellent, I wanted more than just two songs from him!

Then one of my favourite artists, a lady who just keeps on breaking records with her string of number 1s and who is also married to Morgan Evans. Yes, Kelsea Ballerini opened with Love Me Like You Mean It and she, like Old Dominion, seemed to love every minute of it as she strutted up across the stage. She went on to play Miss Me More which is a very well written song in my opinion. Some of her newer songs seem to draw influence from Pop and Hip Hop in places but lyrically they are still quite country. Vocally she was flawless throughout particularly when she sang Legends her most recent number 1. She stripped it down and played an intimate acoustic version of In Between which was really beautiful before singing my favourite song off the new record, I Hate Love Songs. The lyrics in that song are just so clever and I really enjoyed hearing it live. She concluded her set with the title track Unapologetically followed by Yeah Boy.

Bob Harris once again came out to introduce our next artist on the satellite stage in the middle of the Arena. Brett Young is another artist who has had quite a bit of success in the past year. He played two songs off his debut album Sleep Without You and his number one on the country airplay charts In Case You Didn’t Know. Then it was time for the main event, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill (King and Queen of Country, possibly?) Well whatever your answer to that question they are certainly legends. They came out to thunderous applause and opened the show with a cover of I Knew You Were Waiting. The pair sang together but took it in turns to sing each others songs like Felt Good On My Lips which Tim McGraw released back in 2010 and Faith’s The Lucky One. To begin with the sound wasn’t great at the back of Block 412 and we struggled to hear their vocals but it gradually improved throughout their set. There was a real party feel within the room as they sang I Like It, I Love It. They sang one of my favourite Faith Hill songs The Way You Love Me followed by my favourite off The Rest Of Your Life record Break First, it’s just such a beautiful and emotional duet and it was even more emotional live. Tim left the stage and Faith was left alone with the band to sing some of her biggest hits although I was disappointed she didn’t sing There You’ll Be. She did however sing This Kiss and seemed genuinely surprised that the majority of the Arena was singing along to every word. Both Tim and Faith throughout the night paused to admire the crowd and pumped the air with their fists almost in celebration.

Faith went on to sing Breathe, another one of my personal favourites. Wild Ones brought the tempo back up and myself along with the rest of the crowd really enjoyed her cover of Piece of my Heart. Then Tim came back and as he stood towards the front of the stage Faith took a guitar and sat on a stool further back towards where the rest of the band was positioned and as they sang, Tim kept turning to look at her then back to the crowd. Faith exited the stage after that one song. The fiddle player came forward and played a solo and Tim took over playing One Of Those Nights. The lighting effects were great and added to the energy of the show. The smoke machines made it look like there clouds in the arena when the lasers flicked around the room. Tim’s last three solo songs were the highlight of the night for me though with Shotgun Rider followed by one of the best Country songs of our time Humble and Kind which the whole crowd sung along to and he concluded with Live Like You Were Dying which is another Tim McGraw classic that the whole crowd knew. Then Faith reappeared in a whole new outfit for Speak to a Girl their single off this last record. The pair took it in turns to walk through the crowd, Faith came from the stage onto the floor and began to shake the crowds hands whilst meandering her way through back to the other side of the stage. Tim came down through the first tier as he sung Something Like That and made his way back to the stage shaking hands with a few lucky fans on the way. They concluded with a stripped back version of I Need You, sat on stools facing each other. Faith’s vocals wavered just slightly, I think she was overwhelmed by the occasion but it was a beautiful end to a fabulous day 1 at C2C! I can’t wait to do it all again tomorrow!


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