Carrie Underwood, The Shires & Cam
Photo credit: ‘Apple Music Festival, London 2015’ Words: Claire-Louise
After making her UK debut in 2012 to a sold out crowd at the Royal Albert Hall, and headlining the first ever Country to Country festival in 2013 Carrie Underwood marked her return to British shores with a fabulous 70 minute set at the Apple Music Festival, with support from country newcomer Cam and The Shires.
Thousands of competition winners and their guests flocked to the free event which was held at the Roundhouse in Camden Town, and with some eager fans queueing in the rain for hours beforehand its clear Underwood has a loyal fan base here.
Standing in the second row the lights were dimmed and Cam was the first act to open the show, coming onstage at around 7.20PM – it seemed a lot of people were happy when it was announced she’d be supporting, however I was pretty neutral having not really listened to any of her material beforehand, I was excited to hear what the fuss was all about.
This performance was her first ever show here in the UK she was excited to see so many people knew her songs and whilst her set was short, I’d heard enough to become a fan.
Fingers crossed for a proper tour here once her album is released. Her set list was comprised of all four tracks from the EP ‘Half Broke Hearts’‘Runaway Train ’‘My Mistake’ and the beautiful ‘Burning House’. There was also an additional track which was called ‘Mayday’
The Shires were the second support act of the evening, watching them come from the Sounds like Nashville showcase back in May 2014 to playing the Apple Music festival in 18 months was an amazing feeling. Ben and Crissie, we couldn’t be prouder.
There were a few people behind me talking about them, it appeared they weren’t familiar with any of the duo’s songs, hopefully they are now!
They opened with their debut single, ‘Nashville Grey Skies’ very appropriate given the weather outside. They continued their set with tracks such as ‘All Over Again’, ‘State Lines’, ‘I Just Wanna Love You’, ‘Friday Night’, ‘Jekyll And Hyde’, ending with ‘Tonight’.
It was coming up to 9PM and time for the main act, Carrie came out in dressed in a black top and black shorts, completed with a silver belt. It has to be said for someone who only gave birth 7 months ago she was looked absolutely stunning.
It was quite a moody start to her set singing her way through ‘Blown Away ‘and the dark ‘Two Black Cadillacs’ during the intro to ‘Wasted’ she asked the crowd how we were doing and stated that it was good to be back in London. I found her vocals to be a bit off for the first few tracks, but I put that down to her nerves. Now one thing I’ve always loved about hearing ‘Wasted’ live is the epic fiddle solo, I could never get tired of hearing it.
The crowd were cheering and singing along and Underwood expressed again how amazing it was that she and her band were playing, stating that it was such an amazing place and such an amazing thing to be a part of. Before moving on to the catchy ‘Undo It ‘Carrie told us that they’re calling this the Nashville invasion. I’m sure many of us could get used to London becoming the new Nashville any day. One minor thing is I couldn’t help but think Carrie’s background vocalist drowned her out at times but that didn’t detract too much from Underwood’s impressive vocals as we all sang along. Slowing it down with one of my personal favourites, ‘I Told You So’ a Randy Travis cover.
The pace picked up again with the upbeat ‘Good Girl ‘with Carrie giving a stellar performance of the track. The powerful ‘Little Toy Guns ‘from the greatest hits album came next and I’d be waiting to hear this live since last year, and it’s safe to say it didn’t disappoint. The lead single from the Play On album ‘Cowboy Casanova ‘had everyone singing and dancing along and ended to a massive cheer from the crowd.
Things slowed down with what Carrie described as an “oldie”, a beautiful acoustic rendition of ‘Don’t Forget To Remember Me’- She told us about the first time she heard the song and how everything was so crazy in her life at that time, and she was pretty sure she cried because it was saying everything she was feeling at that particular time. After that tender moment things got up-tempo again, this time with ‘Flat On The Floor’, followed by the beautiful ‘See You Again’- with a difference, Underwood can rap, who knew? Impressive to say the least.
One of my favourite moments from the set came in the form of the touching ‘I Know You Won’t ‘Carrie makes this vocal masterpiece sound effortless with her soaring vocals. It was then time for Carrie to pick up the guitar to perform her latest single ‘Smoke Break ‘an up-tempo track about taking a break from all the little stresses in life, then from the current single all the way back to the very beginning with ‘Jesus, Take The Wheel’, she sung it mixed with ‘How Great Thou Art ‘for quite some time which I adored, but it was refreshing to hear it on its own. People put their arms in the air, as Carrie gained a massive reception from the crowd. Next on the set list was a track from the Carnival Ride album, ‘All American Girl ‘she thanked us at the end of the track and before going into ’Last Name ‘she jokingly said “this better not be anybody’s story tomorrow”- I love how at ease she felt with us, and I really hope we made her feel welcome here.
Carrie disappeared off stage for a few moments as the time had come for her encore, we clapped along with her band members to welcome her back onstage. The final two tracks were ‘Something In The Water ‘and ‘Before He Cheats’.
Having been a Carrie fan since the beginning with American Idol I enjoyed every minute of the show, and there was a nice mix of slow and up-tempo tracks from across all albums.
A massive thank you goes to Apple for putting on events like the Apple Music Festival – It’s an incredible opportunity to witness talent in an intimate setting, and for the people who ordinarily wouldn’t attend a country show, it’s a chance to see what country music is about, and hopefully erase any misconceptions. It’s a big deal that Apple included a night dedicated to country music, especially in London. It just wouldn’t have happened say maybe 5 years ago. It’s perhaps a sign that country is being accepted here, in its own right. A sign of changing times, and most importantly it’s a positive change.