By Katie Ingram and Jamie Gardam
Dan + Shay have amassed millions of fans all-over the world and January 2019 was the UK’s turn to have the fan favourites back. During and after each show there was a familiar sighting on social media, everyone was posting videos, photos and comments sharing the feeling that these were one of the loudest crowds heard at a UK country concert.
It seems like every fan was singing every word to every song!
There were 2 guys making the audience tear the roof off The O2 Ritz in Manchester on Saturday night! Did you see them? You may have heard of them, they go by the names of Dan and Shay!
Warming up the mancunian crowd and secretly winning the hearts of the audience before singing a single note by wearing a Manchester United shirt on stage was the delightful dude Devin Dawson. Kicking off the show he sang the title track to his debut album Dark Horse and the audience absolutely loved it! He continued his short but fantastic set of tunes taken from his debut album just him and his guitar, finishing on probably his most famous track to date All on Me! Thanking the boys for bringing him on tour he made sure he didn’t leave without getting the audience pumped for the boys coming on stage next!
Now I have been lucky enough to see Dan and Shay at C2C festival and CMA Fest in Nashville but I have never had the opportunity to see them headline there own show so I was extremely excited to finally hear a full set from the dynamic duo! After a short interval with a mix of different tunes playing in the background the lights finally came down and in that moment the roaring crowd began the cheering the moment the opening bars of 19 You and Me played out! “It was our first week, Myrtle Beach” the boys sang offstage and in an instant the room was filled with girls including myself screaming at the top of their lungs as the boys stormed the stage! In that moment the whole atmosphere in the Ritz completely changed. Being a mancunian myself I know how a concert plays out in Manchester myself after having attended a variation of different shows in my time but I have never witnessed until Saturday’s show an audience and artist on stage connect so instantly the way Dan and Shay connected with this crowd.
First few tracks of the show the audience were treated to some fan favourites from the debut album like the ever so catchy Nothin Like You and Show You Off! Now the chorus of Show You Off you cant help but sing along and that’s exactly what the audience did showing off their backing vocals. Next came the absolute highlight of the night for me! After announcing they were about to sing my favourite song a duet with my favourite queen Kelly Clarkson, I seriously could not wait to sing my heart out at the top of my lungs secretly hoping Miss Kelly Clarkson would make a surprise appearance, wishful thinking I know. Little did I or Dan and Shay know that the audience would be the perfect stand in for the woman herself and I even saw the look of surprise on the boys faces when they stopped singing and heard the sold out audience singing to raise the roof of the Ritz! It was one of them moments caught on video I keep watching over and over again. You can go to gigs all the time and hear a few people singing along but I have never witnessed a moment where you look around the room to see a whole audience singing along so I cant imagine how Dan and Shay must have felt seeing that front of stage happening before their eyes! It was one of them you have to be there kind of moments and you can tell the audience were completely in awe of these boys!
Middle of the set was the perfect time to slow it down and hear two of the most beautiful ballads ever written. It was also the time for Mr Shay Mooney to show off these insane vocals we know he possesses. From The Ground Up was first and there may not have been a wedding proposal in sight like the previous night but the audience got the chance to have their own intimate little 5 minutes, with Dan and Shay captivating them with their stunning performance of the hit. How Not To followed and the mesmerising performance continued, when Shay hits them high notes its hard not to be left completely shocked and amazed at the unique power of his vocals!
With the atmosphere rife and audience not wanting this night to end, Dan and Shay told the audience they wanted to stay and play for as long as the audience would have them and at this rate the audience would have ,if they got the choice, kept them for an all-nighter! Starting the encore with one of the most beautiful songs ever written Dan and Shay certainly left the audience speechless with this performance. Turning up the volume and throwing a pop song into the mix the guys were able to get down and party with the audience to the Justin Timberlake favourite Cant Stop The Feeling! Ending the Saturday Night show with the one thing a lot of people crave on a night out, Tequila! Shay Mooney’s vocals on the track shone and am sure after the show they may have reached for the tequila too!
For my first gig of 2019 I couldn’t think of a more perfect one to attend to start off the year! I have been lucky enough to attend gigs in the UK and US but I have never witnessed a show like it! We all know it takes a while for an artist on stage to get the crowd going and a mancunian crowd can sometimes be known to be hard to please but this audience were completely there with Dan and Shay from the moment they stepped on stage so much so they sang back every single word to every song the boys sang even the lesser known songs which took me completely by surprise! The audience participation and Dan and Shay’s performance on stage was everything! The rest of the years gigs definitely have got a lot to live up to to beat the mind-blowingly sensational spell bounding performance I witnessed Dan and Shay put on Saturday! It was a night am sure I will never forget and am sure Dan and Shay wont either and after showing them how much they are adored over here we hope to see them return very soon!
They say you save the best for last and that is exactly why the London date of UK tours is becoming more frequently the final night of the run. Shepherds Bush Empire is always acoustically and aesthetically the best venue for any artist to play in the capital which with the loyal and dedicated country fan base over here always promises to be a fantastic evening. BUT this was totally different! I have never been to a gig here or anywhere else for that matter where the crowd were singing every single word to every single song giving everything that they have got and Dan & Shay reciprocated to give their absolute all back!
I must admit I don’t really know a massive amount of their songs that well (luckily everyone else did) but their general sound, vocal delivery and energy is something I was aware of from the 3 times I had seen them previously. I think “From the Ground Up” is an absolute masterpiece and one of the best country songs of the modern era and “19 You + Me” is such a great tune too which is a superb choice for an opening track to get the crowd going right from the start. Personally I find a lot of their songs sound quite similar and have the sort of the late nineties and early noughties Westlife vibe where without knowing the songs too well you are always expecting a key change imminently as you listen. Despite this I think as performers they are very entertaining, they are very engaging and there is just some sort of big likability factor that just draws you in.
The venue was built in 1903 and really is a venue made for Shay Mooney to deliver one of the finest voices in all of country music to every single part of it. As a duo there is a lot of charisma (along with some dancing you may be familiar seeing from relatives at a wedding) which engages with the crowd so perfectly and they really captivated the audience who were so much more committed than most sets of fans appear with how people really did sing at the top of their lungs for the entire show.
Tequila was a resounding crowd favourite to end the show which from the videos that had appeared online from the previous UK dates was always going to be a really passionate sing a long from both the duo and the crowd. However this really was the loudest and most fascinating sound I had ever heard at a gig, which culminated with them coming to finish the song in the middle of the floor and added to why I overheard many people talking about it as the best gig they had ever been to.