Although Hammersmith might have been a little drizzly outside whilst Young’s fans lined to enter the venue, it was very much apparent that the spirit definitely was not mirroring England’s typical weather. Upon arriving at the venue which, can I add, is cleverly designed for standing concert goers with its sloped floor, giving everybody an equal chance to see the action, the first I have seen of its type. The room began to fill and the crowd grew larger ready for the support act of the evening.
Canadian born Lindsey Ell is Young’s support on this tour and this energetic lady did not disappoint. The band took to the stage and began playing the introduction to ‘Wildfire’ and, geared with her guitar, Ell ran on to the stage and the crowd erupted; a familiar face that London welcomed back in style.
This girl shows her ability on stage and engages well with the crowd; a brilliant stage presence.
She moved on to songs ‘Mint’ and ‘Waiting On You’ both songs were well executed left a lasting impression; solid performance both vocally and instrumentally. Keeping the positive vibe in the show she tells the crowd to leave all the bad stuff outside these four walls and introduces her song ‘Good’. The band exit the stage leaving Ell with her guitar, the lights dim and focus on her creating an intimate atmosphere.
Lindsey went on to explain to the crowd that a friend of hers suffers from Muscular Dystrophy, and was dumped by her boyfriend as he couldn’t deal with her condition. She explained how she tried talking to her and said “he will never have another you” – leading nicely onto her next song ‘Not Another Me’. The introduction is a beautifully accomplished melodic guitar riff that involves picking and sliding which lasts a little longer than a normal intro but, it works – creates the sense of a journey. She caught the attention of the audience and the personal feel of the performance made it a perfect addition to the show.
Mixing up the set list a bit, Ell covered Stevie Wonder’s ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ and didn’t she do it justice! A fabulous cover that was well received; towards the end of the song she took the time to introduce her band and began with her guitarist who gave a taster of his ability. She then introduced the drummer who is also Chris Young’s bassist. Ell then showed London what she can do on the guitar, shredding away then lowering herself to the ground then losing herself in the moment of just her and her guitar. Her skill behind the guitar shows how talented this young woman is. This gig made a lasting impression on her London fans and I would not be surprised if she gained a few extra followers based on that performance alone.
‘Space’ was up next and then followed by ‘Criminal’ which drew Lindsey’s set to a close. All I can say is go see her! You will not be disappointed, she put on a great show and was thoroughly entertaining throughout. There were no dull moments or songs that didn’t sit well within the set; I would say a faultless performance from this female rocker!
The volume of the crown increased substantially and the time was drawing closer to the main event – Mr Chris Young! His band took their stations and opened with ‘Hanging On’. The crowd was electric at this point, and instantly started to move to Young’s vocals, which were on point.
‘Getting You Home’ was the next song this huge hit certainly has not lost its status and it saw fans on their feet singing with Young every second. It was apparent how overwhelmed Young was with the reception he was already receiving. He has such a depth to his voice that nails each and every note it creates warmth and filled the venue. ‘Lonely Eyes’ was followed by ‘Loosing Sleep. There was a temporary moment of silence as Young was about to speak in to the mic and the crowd went crazy, cheering and whistling at the Tennessee boy. With a bashful smile, he attempted to calm the enthusiastic crowd, saying ‘We are only four songs in, calm down!’ To which the crowd chuckled.
‘Who I am with you’, a personal favourite, was beautifully written and sung. ‘Can take it from there’& ‘She’s Got This Thing About her’ more songs that just kept giving to the entranced crowd.
After that, he was on to the latest material and the name of the tour ‘Raised on Country’. His seventh number, revitalised the crowd as I know I won’t be alone in saying, that we were super excited to hear new music from Young. The new song has is a positive glimpse of what we can expect from this wonderful artist.
Young explained the story of how two of his friends wrote the song ‘I’m coming over’. Their writing styles are completely different to one another and it is interesting how it sounds… perhaps they need to get together more often because what a great song it is! Young asked the crowd to switch on their lights of their phones.. it was a magical moment and looking around at these twinkling lights paired with such receptive fans as well as Young’s stage presence created the most exciting moment of the evening.
‘Voices’ was next on the set from the album ’The Man I Want To Be’ Album. It is no secret that Young carries a genuine kind-hearted and inclusive approach throughout his performances. Welcoming one of his band members to the front of the stage, he joked that he had been doing this particular performance on a past sound check so Young welcomed him to do it for the crowd in London… the crowd applauded and anticipated what was about to happen. I don’t think anyone expected a cover of Prince’s ‘Kiss’. He performed it well and the vocals didn’t disappoint either… he can certainly reach a high note or two!
‘Sober Saturday Night’ was next, followed by ’Think Of You’. There was an element of me hoping Lindsey Ell might take to the stage to perform Cassadee Pope’s part but only for a split second, although Young holds the stage brilliantly, and vocally he delivers again and again.
The humble Chris Young said he was ‘Going to try and do this one justice’, performing Keith Whitley’s ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ note perfect and had the crowd immersed in his unique tone of voice.
He spoke about growing up and playing music. Personally this moment was one of the biggest highlights of the evening… Young’s parents were in the very room and it was their first trip to London. He sang ‘I thought it was you’ and dedicated it to his Mom – special moment, leaving a beautiful feeling in the room.
Young reminisced, talking with the one and only Garth Brooks about the U.K so, he decided to cover ‘Papa Loved Mama’. It was so refreshing for a country singer not to have just gone straight in with ‘Friends In Low places’ that was a varied and welcome addition to the evening’s set list, his traditional sound married well with this melody on this track.
Young spoke about how he has now been with his label for thirteen years now and his guitarist has been there pretty much from day one. It was genuine and heartfelt how he appreciates and enjoys his band, he spoke about how the song he was going to perform was certified Platinum that is of course ‘You’. He gave an incredible performance and when the song neared the end, he joked with the fans that know the song well that there is a part where his vocals go a little higher. He spoke about when he first performed it on television and that he did not know how to approach it first thing in the morning…so with a little instrumental he geared himself up and gave us that snippet he spoke of and the bit fans know so well.
Looking around at a crowded Hammersmith Eventim Apollo and the multitude of fans with alcohol in their hand, it was certainly evident that everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves, I am personally so glad he chose to perform the next song as it is very apt for a concert ‘Save Water, Drink Beer’ – a song full of punch and energy had the crowd as lively as ever.
Before the show ended it was on to new material and then ’Tomorrow’. He thanked the crowd and left the stage, he joked about the last time being in London he played longer than he had ever played before and promised to play up until 11pm. The crowd shouted, screamed and stomped their feet for an encore…. And of course…. We got it.
Someone in the crowd requested ‘Text Me Texas’ to which he replied “We can do that!”. To end the electric evening he needed an absolutely perfect track, and ‘Aw Naw’ delivered in style. Such a catchy tune that closed the show with a bang!
Overall this evening was an absolute musical treat from the opening right through till the end. There wasn’t a dull moment throughout and it didn’t flatten in anyway or lack any substance. Chris Young is a natural performer and gives his all. It was such a treat to watch him again and hear new music too! The venue was a great hit! Come back soon Chris!!! London loves you!!!