Apple Festival brings Country Music to the mainstream audience
Words: Hannah Compton Photo’s: Claire Weston
September 21st 2015
Over the last few years Apple ITunes have held a free festival in London for fans across the UK. In the past, the Festival has been held over approximately a month, however, this year it was held over ten nights and re named the Apple Festival.
The festival was held at The Roundhouse in Camden London and has a different Headline artist each night. Tickets for this are like hot cakes, this is of course mostly down to the fact that it is free. Since year one, I have personally never won.
Not only did the organisers change the Festival name, the amount of dates but also the variety of genres they were giving exposure to. It was almost as if someone was having you on when Carrie Underwood, one of Country Musics finest was announced. Was this really true? Surely it must be a joke? That’s what went through my mind. Alas, I was happy to be wrong because her involvement was 100 % true and confirmed.
Social media went into a social frenzy. Panic mode set in, Carrie fans obsessing, losing focus and freaking out, myself included. As I said above, obtaining tickets is not easy, you had to apply via ITunes/Apple account or hope for a separate competition. I must have applied various ways and was literally the only one out of my friends who did not win. Luckily, I managed to be a friends plus one. Wow! Was I lucky, I think I would have avoided the live stream otherwise ha!
Apple Festival is also available to watch via Live Stream for fans worldwide, so to be playing is a very good career move as is a huge promotional step. Especially for Country Music. Most people on social media were saying “Who is Carrie Underwood?” And others only knowing her as just a winner of American Idol. I could not wait for them to be Blown Away.
Days before the event, it was announced new US Country Artist Cam would be supporting. Another exciting addition as I was loving her EP and assumed I would never see her live. A sweet solo female artist with stunning vocals and a beautiful song called Burning House, Cam was sure to reel any fan of any genre in. As if that was not enough, UK Country artists and fan favourites The Shires were also set to support Carrie. Well this night could not get any better. It was unheard of. Country Music at a commercially successful world streamed Festival which usually hosts Radio one Artists? It was set though, The Nashville Invasion was coming and glad we were.
At the Apple Festival it is mostly standing and a balcony of seats. When you win you cannot exchange your tickets and must arrive with photo ID. Being pregnant, I needed a seat and had to book in advance with the venue and Apple organisers. The organisers were very accommodating and reserved two seats for us and said we only needed to turn up when doors open in the access queue to avoid any strain. I was very impressed with their care and all the help they provided. When we arrived we were located to our seats which had a fantastic view. It is a lovely venue, round of course but the only issue with the seating area is ensuring you are not stuck behind one of the large pillars which we thankfully were not.
Some people who were standing were queuing outside from 10 am that morning even though doors were not till 6pm. seeing as hardcore fans wanted to be close, I understood their keenness although I personally could not have handled waiting in the rain all that time.
It was not long before the venue started to fill and we were ready for the first act.
At 19.20 the wonderful Cam took stage. Skipping on stage with excitement wearing flashing yellow earrings and Yellow shoes as Cam always wear yellow in some form.
Having only a short slot Cam was certainly not support material but much better. Kicking her set off with her song Half Broke Heart which had a very country sound to it with an uptempo melody, Cam looked excited and happy throughout the performance. After her first song she announces this is her first ever UK show and that she thought no one would know who she was. This was followed by songs
And ending with the fantastic song Burning House. Despite being a ballad it was the perfect song to end with, possibly as her most well known track but was still the perfect end to such a great set.
Cam’ performance certainly left you wanting more and I felt she won a lot of people over that night. Her vocals are flawless, sounding somewhat of a Young Dolly Parton, in particular on the track My Mistake. Cam is very likeable and has great stage presence with a loveable personality. Her performance was energetic and very country.
You could see how much the performance meant to Cam and it meant a lot to her fans too and I know I am not alone when I say that I hope she makes a return to the UK soon.
No longer a stranger to the UK Music scene having had a top ten album and being the First UK Country Act to ever achieve that, it would have been criminal to not have The Shires there. Despite their success, The Shires are still as humble as ever and still remain grateful for any opportunity they receive. Knowing the show was being streamed world wide seemed to have played part in just how electric their performance was. Having seen them numerous times, I would say this was one of their best performances. The crowd interaction was sensational, especially as they would have not known that people in the audience knew them. Ben and Crissie who make up The Shires really went all out and showed the world that the UK Country do it just as well as the US. Crissie did not need to worry about being up against a power house vocalist such as Carrie Underwood as proved she certainly has some pipes of her own that can not be critiqued. Crissie’ vocal range is insane and she just makes it look so easy, although it isn’t, I tried ha!
Starting with Nashville Grey Skies the crowd really got into it and it was amazing to see that they have come so far.
Other songs they performed were:
All Over Again (Current Single)
I Just Wanna Love you
Jekyll & Hyde
I was left very proud of The Shires and excited for the response worldwide.
Being a live streamed show, we did not have to wait long for the BIG moment. A countdown clock from ten got the crowd chanting down to one and cheering. Carries band took stage playing the intro to Blown Away. Moments later, Carrie appeared. Greeting the audience she went straight into Blown Away immediately showcasing her powerful vocal ability and getting the crowd cheering on all her long notes. Sometimes I think she doesn’t even need a microphone as her vocal projection is that powerful.
The excitement was overwhelming and the crowd’s energy was electric. Despite being pregnant, I stood up by my seat, it took forever but I got there ha! And danced away. Almost everyone sang back to Carrie and it pleased me that so many Carrie fans managed to win tickets because at one point, none of us had.
Carrie looked stunning on stage wearing black shorts, a black top and a large silver waist belt. Carrie never disappoints live and moves around the stage a lot rather than just standing behind a mike stand. She performed as if she was playing to a crowd of die hard fans alone and she did not hold back at all. She has such a great stage presence and an inspirational way of confidence that you warm to her immediately and are captivated by her every move and every vocal.
Next up she sang Two Black Cadillacs. A track from her last album blown Away, a darker song lyrically with a very catchy chorus.
Carrie didn’t just stick to her most recent tracks but also treated us with songs from every one of her albums including the two new tracks Little Toy Guns and Something In The Water from her Greatest Hits album and the current single Smoke Break from her upcoming album Storyteller set to be released October 23rd. The set list was a nice evenly spread range of ballads to uptempo tracks never letting the audience’ mind drift.
Carrie is such a phenomenal performer and I am convinced that all the people in the audience who were unfamiliar with her, were sure to be downloading her music that very night.
Her set list also included:
I Told You So – A Randy Travis Cover to which she played Tribute
Little Toy Guns
Don’t Forget To Remember Me
Flat on The Floor
See You Again with mash up of Wiz Khalifa’ See You Again – Carrie even did the rap part and was surprisingly good at it. I guess she can do it all?
I Know You Wont
Jesus Take The Wheel
All American Girl
Something In The Water
Before He Cheats
The entire show was unbelievable and one I will remember for a very long time. All acts blew everyone in the audience away and I think I can safely say that September 21st 2015. Country showed Apple and The world EXACTLY how it is done!
You can still watch the festival online via Applemusicfestival.com
The Shires also have a headlining tour starting in October. Info Here
You can also purchase all the acts music from Itunes
Welcome to Cam Country – EP by Cam
Brave (Deluxe) by The Shires
Storyteller by Carrie Underwood
Greatest Hits: Decade #1 by Carrie Underwood
Blown Away by Carrie Underwood
Play On by Carrie Underwood
Carnival Ride by Carrie Underwood
Some Hearts by Carrie Underwood