Day 2 – Sunday
By David England
Photo’s Hels Bels Photography
After the excitement of Saturday, Sunday had an awful lot to live up to. Just as well it was Kip Moore. He has been described as a Hillbilly Springsteen, a dyed in the wool blue collar man. I even read that he’s asking fans to write obscure song requests on posters for them to sing. Anyone who has seen Springsteen live will know that’s how he picks his songs. With one album down and another on his way he seemed like an ideal start to Sunday’s C2C.
After a brief intro with a giant stylised image of Moore from behind, shown on video screen, he dove straight into his set with “Wild Ones”. Taken from the new album this was a great introduction to his his musical style, if you hadn’t listened to him before, country with a rock edge. We then dipped back to his debut album “Up All Night” with both “Crazy One More Time” and “Reckless’.
Probably the one song everyone wanted to hear was “Hey Pretty Girl” and it didn’t disappoint. Starting so softly and building slowly before fading out completely, Moore’s voice just completely filled the O2. The guitars slowly came back in but it was all about the vocals. Finishing just like the start with the music fading out you knew you heard something special. At the end someone screamed “I love you Kip” and after that I think they were speaking for us all.
Moore took time out to tell us that it was a dream of his to play the UK and it had been an arduous slog getting here. He then started to introduce one of his favorite songs as a kid and one they play on the tour bus all the time. I don’t think people expected to hear the first few bars of Oasis! By the chorus of “Don’t Look Back In Anger” he had everyone singing along. No matter what you taste in music everyone knows that song. It was a beautiful cover. Listening again on Radio 2 Country I heard Jo Wiley say she recorded this and sent to Noel Gallagher, would love to know what he thought!
With that the set was almost over, he wanted the love to continue so decided he would stand in the main lobby after the show and sign anything for anyone. With that the guitar kicked in and “Something ‘Bout A Truck’ came blaring out the speakers, and we were up dancing and singing again, it’s a great song to finish a set.
Just like Brandy Clark on Saturday, Kip Moore was a revelation. His sound straddles the country rock vibe and his raspy voice offering a perfect accompaniment. He promised to return and I think most of the people in the O2 will be happy to see him again.
Next up brought Brantley Gilbert. Back after two years and with a bump up the bill, he was here to rock. We got a blow the seat of your pants off, gun toting, whisky drinking intro video lasting several minutes before he and his band launched into “Kickin’ In The Sticks” and boy it was loud.
We did get the story of when Gilbert was on NY Ink along with someone whose first language wasn’t English and Gilbert was the one who had subtitles. To be fair to the show his thick accent is at times impenetrable but we do all love that Southern drawl. Taking time to introduce his fiancee, the split and getting back together the set slowed down with “You Don’t Know Her Like I Do”. It didn’t last long, that instantly recognisable Slash riff from “Sweet Child Of Mine” could only mean it’s “My Baby’s Guns & Roses”. How many song titles did you spot?
“One Hell Of Amen” – a cracking slow number which really focuses his voice and sound. Gilbert wrote this song as a tribute to two friends who passed away and it really is a fitting eulogy to them. “Bottom’s Up” is one of my favorite tracks from the new album but it didn’t seem quite right live. The tempo of the song seemed rather slow and for someone who dialed it up to 11 all night, was curiously underwhelming. Still the three ladies in front of me were up and dancing and didn’t seem to mind.
Closing the set out with “Country Must Be Country Wide” or as he says “Country Must Be Worldwide” and his first number one in the States. It was a good end to a very loud, predominately rocky set.
Jason Aldean was the one that I had been waiting for today. Like Gilbert we got big guitars over an intro video. It then went quiet, some pyro exploded and his first ever single ”Hick Town” boomed out, a great song start to the set. It got even better as “My Kinda Party” and “Tattoos On This Town” quickly followed. Aldean, dressed in his usual attire and the only person all weekend in a cowboy hat, said that he had been waiting a long time to be here. Judging by the reaction it received hopefully it won’t be long before it comes back again.
Slowing it down, catching his breath we got “Tonight Looks Good On You” before an 80’s style synth beat started, guitars then came in and it was “Sweet Little Something Like You”, up we got again.
With the tempo slowing we were treated to “Burnin’ It Down” co-written by the Florida Georgia Line boys. Picking the pace back up again, he launched into “Crazy Town” quickly followed by the Gilbert/Ford cover “Dirt Road Anthem”
Finishing his set on “She’s Country” the pyro exploded, the microphone caught fire and Aldean left the stage. He was one act that I was desperate to catch and didn’t disappoint. Now his music is available over here, perhaps we don’t have to wait another 10 years to see him.
Final act on the final night bought Lady Antebellum. No strangers to these shores, they’ve performed numerous times although playing to a full O2 was on their bucket list.
Kicking off with the crowd pleasing “Bartender” everyone was up with big smiles.
Flitting backwards and forwards over all their albums we got “American Honey” & “Just A Kiss”. At one point, I cannot remember when exactly, Kelley got down off the stage and worked his way through the crowd to get a better look at all of us. How he managed to keep singing with so many people around him I’ll never know. At one point someone in the front row tried to take a selfie and in Brad Paisley style he grabbed the phone and helped them out. I haven’t seen that picture yet, have you?!
With band introductions done on “Lookin’ For A Good Time” they then threw in a crowd pleasing cover of “Islands In The Stream”. Everyone loves that song! We were then treated to an acoustic mashup including “Goodbye Town” and “Hello World” which showcased the amazing voices Kelley and Scott have.
Acoustic set over, they ran through “Downtown” and “I Run to You” before finishing the evening on “We Owned The Night”. They left the stage, we stayed. We knew they were coming back. The crowd sang, clapped, stomped and sang “oohh, oohh, oohh” over and over until Haywood came back out, started playing the piano and then those oh so familiar chords that introduce “Need You Now” had the crowd erupt into applause. Towards the end, the music stopped, the microphone turned on the crowd and we were asked to sing along, and everyone did. Wonderful stuff. Then with the sound of the Avicii cover “Wake Me Up” starting, Lady A finished their encore. We all left very happy, while the queue to see Kip Moore in the lobby got longer and longer and longer.
Over the weekend we were treated to some superb music from all the acts. I know it may not have been all to everyone’s taste, but I think it showed two things; 1) the breadth of the current country genre, whether you like or not and 2) how willing these massive country acts are to come over here and play in the UK now. It is going to be difficult topping this one next year.