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Country 2 Country Saturday

C2C Saturday 10th March 2018


Due to the late addition of Sugarland, the stage timings of both the Spotlight stage and the main arena had been reshuffled and moved around.  As a result Saturday’s proceedings started with a Spotlight stage act.  Ashley Cambell performed a tribute to her father.  I have to say I normally hate the Spotlight stage, I have always thought the sound is wrong, it didn’t seem to be such a problem this year though, all the Spotlight stage acts sounded great.

Ashley looked breathtakingly beautiful & sung a very clever medley of her dad’s songs with pretty much 1 line of most of his songs seamlessly added together.  A lot of time & effort has obviously been spent putting this together.  While she was singing on the screen behind the main stage a montage was shown of photos and home movie clips of Glen, Ashley, Kim (Glen’s 4th wife and Ashley’s mother) and Ashley’s brother Shannon.  Ashley finished with her debut single, the song she wrote about her father’s struggles with his Alzheimer’s disease – Remembering.  This was a very emotional set & I struggled to hold it together, but it certainly was a very fitting tribute.

Luke Combes was first up on the main stage.  When Think Country’s Caroline Gulla reviewed Luke’s debut album This One Is For You, the review made me want to go listen to the album, so I did & I didn’t like it, not sure I even got to the end of it!!!  However when Luke was announced for C2C I obviously had to go listen again & several times over.  It didn’t take very many listens & all of a sudden Luke was one of the acts I was really looking forward to.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Luke was at the CMA Songwriters event on Thursday night & had been really good so I was looking forward to more of the same.  What I wasn’t expecting was the amount of energy this guy put into his performance.  I expected him to be behind his guitar for most of the time, but nope, he worked that stage & made full use of all of it (with a drink in his hand for pretty much most of it!!  Lol!!)

Luke had already announced he was coming back for his own headline tour & tickets had gone on sale before he even performed at C2C.  (I had been 1st in the queue at pre-sale & got my tickets!)  On stage Luke said ticket sales had been so good he had added an extra date in London.  I think this is a 1st, a country act that is not a ‘Headline’ act adding an extra date, I only hope he does manage to sell both nights!

He only had a short set so sang a few of the songs from the album, including Honky Tonk Highway, which he explained is his tribute to Brooks & Dunn.  As soon as he said that & started singing it I smacked my head & said of course!!  He didn’t sing my favourite though – I Got Away With You, this song makes me giggle as he says that he bust out of Buckingham with the crown jewels, which are actually kept at the Tower of London, not Buckingham Palace!!

Ashley McBryde was next on the Spotlight stage.  It was good to actually see her this time!  (If you haven’t read my prior review, I was in the Indigo when Ashley was performing, but had come in late, the venue was heaving & I couldn’t actually see her!

She sang American Scandal, when she finished, she was obviously very pleased with her performance &/or the reception she received as she air punched several times (I actually Googled this term to make sure it was the correct term.  The definition is ‘an act of thrusting one’s clenched fist up into the air, typically as a gesture of triumph or elation’.  Yup, definitely the correct term!)  Ashley then told us about a teacher at school who had asked them all what they wanted to do when they left school.  Ashley said “Move to Nashville & write songs for other people”.  Her teacher said “Yeah, good luck with that, you had better have a real good back up plan!”  (Don’t you just love teachers like this??  I had 1 exactly the same, the only correct answer as far as she was concerned was “Work in an office” & most of us ended up doing exactly that!!)  Ashley said “Excuse me while I take a slurp of my back up plan, lifted a pint of beer & took a big old glug, which received a huge cheer.  She followed this take up with her song Girl Going Nowhere.  There were several artists on people’s lips this year, last year it was Drake White, this year it was definitely Ashley McBryde.  I think she would have been absolutely great as an After Party act too!  Can’t help but think we will be seeing a lot more of this talented young lady!

After a short break, the lights dimmed & Kip Moore’s band walked on, the opening notes of Wild Ones started, Kip walked on stage & the crowd went mad.  Obviously I wasn’t the only 1 looking forward to this performance!!  Despite the fact that I have ‘accidentally’ seen Kip 3 times in the space of the last 7 months.  I haven’t yet tired or got bored of him, despite the fact that I don’t really consider myself to be a Kip fan!  I say seen him accidentally, that is because I saw him in Enniskillen at Harvestfest, then his own show in October & now C2C, so only once of that 3 times have I gone deliberately just to see Kip.  I think being on the front rail at Harvestfest in August really converted me though!

Oddly, the 1st thing I noticed was 1 of his band members (bassist I think) had had his hair cut, at Harvestfest he ran onto the stage looking like a L’Oreal advert, his hair is a lot shorter now.

Kip delivered the performance I was hoping for & expecting.  He knows his business, he knows how to entertain & keep the audience on their feet.  I love it when he puts his guitar down & wiggles – I mean dances, around the stage, I love the way he dances, it is really unique!  The crowd went crazy for Beer Money & there were a lot of drinks being held up during the chorus.  Another favourite of mine The Bull was also included.  Kip’s final song is 1 that I think really has become my favourite – Guitar Man.  This is such a personal song & as an ardent music fan, you can totally relate to the lyrics.  Kip had sung this at the Songwriters on Thursday, he tells the story of how it came about & you can really feel his passion, the pain he has gone through & you can’t help but think that the girl back in Georgia & more importantly her mother, is kicking her butt & hard!!

With that, Kip was gone.  When Kip 1st played C2C in 2015, he was the opening act on the Sunday and was relatively unknown to me.  When he was announced, I only knew the song Hey Pretty Girl.  I enjoyed getting to know his music, but he definitely BURST on to the stage, took an awful lot of people by surprise & won a lot of fans over.  Even more when he said he was going to sit & sign anything people wanted signed & he wasn’t going to stop until the last person had gone.  He kept that promise & was there until just gone midnight I think it was, signing things (bet security loved him – not!!).  This is a very personal touch that he has maintained every visit, with impromptu performances after gigs & meeting & signing things for his fans.  I think it is fair to say Kip is C2C favourite.  At the start of this evening a lady in front of us was talking to us.  She said she would be happy if Brad came over every year.  A little while later I said to my best mate, “I don’t think there is anyone I would want to see every year!”  She said “Nope, me neither & I was thinking exactly the same.”  3 songs into Kip, we looked at each other & said “Every year” simultaneously!!  You would never guess we have been best friends for nearly 30 years!!

Next on the Spotlight stage was an act Rollingstone included on their 10 New Country Artists You Need to Know list of 2016, she was also a support for Kip when he played O2 Shepherds Bush in October, so how odd it must have felt to her to be following him!  Jillian sang 3 songs, Hate Me, Reasons & God Bless This Mess, her voice was clear and true.  Jillian is a bit too slow for my liking, but her lyrics are very clever.

Finally the moment I had been waiting for, literally for YEARS!  I was so excited and yet very nervous.  I had been desperate to see Miranda.  When she played C2C 2016, I was beyond excited, but was then horribly disappointed.  It was her 1st big performance since her divorce & I felt she had lost a lot of confidence.  I know I was in a very small minority & I know she won a lot of fans that night, but I wanted to cry, it wasn’t the Miranda I was expecting.  (Side note, when she came over last year, I saw her 3 times in 8 days & it was DEFINITLY the Miranda I had expected at C2C!)  So I was slightly worried that I would be disappointed again!

First impressions?  What on EARTH was Jennifer wearing?  I am not normally 1 to comment on personal appearances, but in this case I will make an exception!!  She was wearing a pair of jeans that were very ‘distressed’, there were more holes than denim, she had teamed this up with a jacket that any theatre in the West End would be very proud for Joseph to be wearing!!  Bearing in mind the beautiful sparkly dress she was wearing last year it was a bit of a shock!  It took nothing away from her performance though, which was EXACTLY as I was expecting and hoping!!  Again she owned the stage, making full use of it going back & forth 1 side to the other in a pair of amazingly high heels that I would have had trouble standing up in, let alone walking in!

The performance was electric, fun & incredibly upbeat.  1 thing that was very, very apparent was how happy Kristian & Jennifer were to be back on the stage together.  Kristian’s grin was completely splitting his face & you could honestly see the love shining out of his whole face, the entire performance!  If I was having a ‘pinch me I am watching Sugarland’ moment, Kristian was definitely having a ‘pinch me I am playing as Sugarland again’ moment!  Jennifer was much the same, frequently looking at Kristian & beaming at him.

Their set included several Sugarland favourites –Stay (which was acoustic & gave me goosebumps!) Stuck Like Glue & Baby Girl amongst them, in addition Kristian sung Trailer Hitch (happy Helen, I do love that song!) then Jennifer sang Unlove You, giving a little nod to the 5 years these guys spent creating music as solo artists.

The performance was everything I hoped for, it was an absolute highlight of the weekend!  The crowd loved it & I am fairly sure if they had played for another hour, there would not have been any complaints!

Last up on the Spotlight stage was Lukas Nelson.  I am going to go out on a limb here, sorry, I did not like him at all!  Listening to the acts before attending I knew I was either going to love Lukas or continue to dislike him, unfortunately it was the latter!  We can’t like every act that plays, it would be odd if we did, there were a couple of acts I didn’t enjoy over the weekend & I am afraid Lukas tops that list!  I didn’t enjoy his Spotlight set & I really did not like him at the after party, infact during his performance at the After Party, 3 of our team fell asleep, 1 checked her emails & I struggled to pay attention!

The headline act for Saturday was Kacey Musgraves.  There was much outrage when she was announced as a headline act.  She had played C2C in 2016 when she was the penultimate act before Eric Church.  I thought then that the stage was too big for her, she didn’t make full use of it at all.  She was fun though, as were her band, especially when their (pink) suits all lit up with fairy lights & Kacey’s boots had fairy lights!  So I had mixed feelings about this headline performance.

Once again I am going to break my rule about personal appearances!  (Twice in 1 review!!)  It was another ‘What on earth is she wearing’ moment!  She had this great big blue fluffy jacket on, she looked like something out of Monsters Inc, or someone said on Facebook the Cookie Monster Muppet!  When she took it off (she must have been flipping hot!) she had a multi coloured sparkly strappy jumpsuit on, glad she & Jennifer weren’t on the stage at the same time!

For the first time today, full use was not made of the stage.  Kacey walked up & down a few times, but on the whole she stayed in the same spot.  Her band were not wearing pink sparkly suits & it was as if Kacey was taking herself too seriously, the fun seemed to have left the building.  In addition she swore.  I am not generally a prude & I often have a potty gob, but she was being recorded for a later session on Radio 2 & she dropped the F word a couple of times.  Didn’t hear Faith, Kimberley or Karen swear!

She sang tracks from both her albums and also a couple of new tracks Space Cowboy and Butterflies, which are going to be on her new album, coming out soon.  In addition she sang Miranda’s hit song Mama’s Broken Heart, a track Kacey co-wrote with Brandy Clark & Shane Mcanally.  I was really hoping she would sing this.  1st time I heard her singing it at O2 Shepherd’s Bush many moons ago I was really shocked as I was unaware then that she had written it.  She didn’t sing it in 2016, probably because Miranda was on the bill as well, this time 3 notes in, that was me, I was screaming my head off & I sang along at the top of my voice (sorry to the girls sat next to me!!)

For her last 2 songs the fun crept back in as several great big inflatable, colour changing balls appeared in the audience & were batted around.  The final thing was a cascade of gold tickertape which burst down from the ceiling covering the people in the 1st few rows.  That was fun, but I do feel it was almost as if Kacey felt that as the Headliner, she needed to be more professional and perhaps play down her usual playful self.

I did enjoy Kacey’s set, but she was too mellow and it was almost as if she was there to do a job so she was going to do it, rather than having fun & wanting us to have fun.

Whilst she was on stage Kacey announced she is doing a world tour, which includes several dates in the UK.  The London date is in Wembley arena and I wonder if she will be able to sell it out, I am afraid I for 1 will not be going!  I loved Kacey at O2 Shepherds Bush, I thought she was a real breath of fresh air, I don’t know if it was because she was 1 of the 1st Country gigs I went to (back in the days where we were lucky if we got 2 Country artists a year to come over, rather than the 2 or 3 a month we seem to have now!) or if she is just better on a smaller stage!  I don’t think I have got tired of listening to her & I am looking forward to the new album.














Annette Gibbons
Hi, I’m Annette, I have been a huge country music fan since the early 90s those were the days we were lucky enough to have CMT in the UK. I enjoy nothing more than listening to country music whilst having a cold beer (or a moonshine) with friends. I try to as many gigs as I can here in the UK and in the USA; I think of Nashville as my second home and I am lucky to have made some amazing friends in Tennessee. Think Country is something I am very proud of, I just want to share my love and passion of all things country music related with you all.
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