I have never been someone that has previously thought about, let alone had the time or opportunity to go to more than one date on any artists UK tour. It always fascinated me what the appeal is for people travelling around the country to see something multiple times in close proximity (and how people could firstly afford it and more importantly justify the time off work) but more importantly how people can do it for multiple artists – so next time you rob a bank or have the winning lottery numbers in advance, give me a shout and let me get in on it please! I went to Vienna for my 16th Birthday to see Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen is for me the greatest artist or performer to ever walk the earth then my best friend and I queued outside Brixton Academy from 6 in the morning when it was freezing cold to make sure we were front row to see Haim so I thought if the multiple show adventure was to occur it would have been likely for one of those 3 artists or Little Mix who my ex-girlfriend is going to see 7 (YES SEVEN) times on their LM5 tour later this year.
But then a 24 year old Scorpio from Rossville, GA announced a very extensive tour of the UK with 3 dates that were easily accessible for where I live and 2 of which fell over weekends so the temptation was too good to resist and decided let’s do all 3 of them! Admittedly 2 of the dates were at festivals, the first being at Dixie Fields in Chelmsford (which is the town I grew up and you can read my thoughts on the festival HERE) as the opening show of the tour concluding with headlining Nashville Meets London to end the tour with a trip down to the South Coast on a glorious sunny day in Brighton sandwiched in between them. Very quick note on gigs in Brighton: CAN US ARTISTS, PROMOTERS AND BOOKING AGENTS PUT ON MORE GIGS HERE PLEASE!!!!! It’s a great place, it allows people on the South Coast more access to shows (it is a similar journey from London by train as Birmingham is so if you can do the Midlands on a tour surely the beach, a cooler vibe and a much nicer accent to understand should be enough to get more shows down there) plus with the 4500 capacity Brighton Centre, 1850 guests that can be housed at the Brighton Dome or getting up to 600 people in at Concorde2 and a variety of bars in the town or on the seafront (like the 300 capacity at The Haunt where Lauren played) that regularly host live shows there are venues to suit whatever artists and their management are forecasting attending
I don’t think it is possible to ever attend a Lauren Alaina show and leave without a huge smile on your face even if you don’t really know a lot about her or her music! There is just something that you be infected with because she and her band don’t just give everything to bring a really energetic, professional and up-tempo show but she genuinely leads the way with having as much fun as possible herself to ensure her whole audience does the same. Initially I was going to write separate pieces about the Brighton and London shows but as the set list was the same for both shows I am reluctant to create a state of Déjà vu more for myself. The Dixie Fields set had a lot of similarities and a few extra songs played but the key observation is that it is a very lively up-tempo set that is laden with the big hits and fan favourites from both her debut and sophomore albums ‘Wildflower’ and ‘Road Less Traveled’ along with a few nice surprises too.
‘History’ which was the promotional single from her self-titled extended play that was released between her first and second full length records is a real roaring introduction into her live show and sets the tone for the intensity that will be forthcoming. This high energy then flows through ‘Queen of Hearts’ and her second single ‘Georgia Peaches’ which they blend perfectly into the Guns N’ Roses classic ‘Paradise City’ to grab the attention of some of the revellers in Canary Wharf that may not be as familiar with the back catalogue of the back catalogue of the runner-up from season 10 of American Idol
That is one of the differences between the festival shows and playing at The Haunt in Brighton. People that went to Brighton were there purely to see her whilst the festival shows would have included people that may not know much about her or had stayed on after attending to see other acts or just gone along for the day out of curiosity. She is a fascinating individual with such a beautiful heart and is such a fun person to speak to or just get to see as her enthusiasm, positivity and energy really rubs off on you which we lucky enough to experience first-hand as we got to spend some time at Universal with her at the start of the tour which you can read about HERE. One of the things you notice about her as an artist and a songwriter is that there is a lot of depth in her and she is not afraid to be open about herself so some of her songs are very personal to her which in turn allow them to feel real and very relatable.
She sets up “Doin’ Fine” talking of how many of us have imperfect families paying reference to her parents’ divorce and her father coming up to 6 years sober after previously being an alcoholic which sets out really positive messages of acceptance and overcoming things that people can relate to in their own way. The exposure of her own vulnerability is then a distant memory when ‘Next Boyfriend’ follows and she brings a member of the audience onto stage that and dance with her as her potential next boyfriend for what is often a very amusing moment of the set that lets her personality shine through in full before we move on to the sweet summertime vibes of ‘Tupelo’ which is probably my favourite track off her first record. It’s just a beautiful sweet, happy song that is always nice to see artists have gems from earlier albums that despite never being a single they love to still play plus I like it even more now as during my road trip through MS, AL & TN prior to CMA Fest earlier this year it was a town that we randomly stopped off in (random music factoid – here not Memphis where Elvis was born) so it’s a bit more cute when you hear it and think back to driving around through there sat with one of your best friends (The road trip chronicles can be found HERE)
The intensity in the set was maintained with her solo version of the massive number one duet ‘What If’s’ she originally performed with Kane Brown that at all 3 shows that I went to was when the whole crowd really started to get lively with her and had the majority of people singing along. Then her little surprise and the most fun moment of her set. When I sat down and talked to her I stressed that medleys are a dying art and it is awesome to see someone bringing them back and having a serious amount of fun with them! Her live sets have one of 2 collections of back to back singalong classics (I love the one we saw in London and Brighton but I think the one they did at Dixie Fields is cleverer and just about shades it if it were a competition) with the all-female medley version having the entire crowd in Canary Wharf joining in to the likes of the Dixie Chicks, Rihanna, Shania, Reba, Britney, Whitney, Beyonce & Carrie. This then sets up her own girl power anthem ‘Ladies in the ‘90s’ which pays homage to the ladies that influenced her growing up.
The fact that prior to the encore she did not have any slower songs or ballads in her set is a great way to engage a festival crowd and something many more people need to take note from. Keep it fun, keep it lively, keep engaging with the crowd and get the party going! I think her performance at Canary Wharf was from an entertainment perspective and as an out and out festival showstopper was comfortably the best set the festival has ever seen and an absolute perfect fit for the event plus I hope that from the 2 weeks her and her team spent over here that they realised that she has a market with a lot of dedicated fans over here that love her as much as she fell in love with our country on this trip! I thoroughly enjoyed Dixie Fields at the start of the tour and everything about it as I thought the line-up was terrific and the vibe was a lot of fun. However she left her best performance for last and the most concentrated crowd of the tour! She has something really special as an entertainer and for an out and out stage performer that doesn’t have over exaggerated stage décor or dancers, she brings one of the best shows that you will come across in any genre of music because it is not just about her having fun but also her warmth and connection with the crowd.
The night, festival and her first UK headline tour concluded with a beautiful version of ‘Three’ which is just lyrically so real to everyone and has so much transference worldwide and even across cultures that again demonstrates how special and warm this girl is that has been through so much in her life already before bringing everything back up with the anthemic number 1 single ‘Road Less Traveled’ to bring the curtain down on such a successful tour that fingers crossed is the first of many and we all definitely hope it isn’t another 3 years before she returns to this side of the pond.
As for Nashville Meets London, it was interesting seeing the size of the crowd with the event considering there was only 1 day compared to 2 this year. The changes in the park from previous years were fine and it wasn’t excessively crowded like some people may have thought it may be, staff were as friendly and helpful as ever and again the event continues to be a success and many peoples highlight of the year. Despite only being one day and some typical British weather, I know a lot of people did still travel down for the event from all across the country so I think it did show the value in having such a strong headliner with a lot of appeal similar to when we had Lucie Silvas close a few years ago. I don’t think many people were actually put off by the weather, yes they may have had more people stumble across the event but I doubt many people decided against going because of the weather forecast. However it did seem to get a lot busier later for Lauren’s set, even more arrivals than I had seen in terms of numbers coming later on during previous years, so despite having a very strong top billing there may have been some people that were not as excited by the rest of the line up or simply wanted to see Lauren in London rather than people being put off by the weather? – However from my own perspective, I genuinely thought Sarah Darling was absolutely terrific and she is always so dreamy to listen to but this was the most incredible set I have ever seen from her and to finally get to hear Wonderland then these songs been brought to life in a live setting was superb!
All in all: fun day, wasn’t bothered about getting wet, hope we can have 2 days again next year, great catching up with plenty of people, a fantastic atmosphere, somehow survived the idea of a boat party down the Thames the night before (the fact that we didn’t make it on last year should have been karma and the universe telling me it probably wasn’t a good idea – HOWEVER Tequila told me otherwise and I would definitely recommend it) and absolutely see why people go to see artists more than once on a tour now so who knows where I can go exploring the next time (and we will all be convinced it’s a when rather than and if) we have Lauren Alaina over here!