So it’s been quite a while since my last post and I’ve been pretty busy as well as pretty ill with the flu! Not what you want on your annual leave from work. March has been a great month and it started with a week long trip to London to see family and listen to some country music.
Each March, the O2 in London house thousands of country music fans for their now annual Country 2 Country music festival. I’ve been a huge country music fan since I can remember; mainly through my parent’s influence and them playing Garth Brooks all the time when I was younger so being able to spend a whole day listening to live country music in the UK is amazing! The first C2C concert was back in 2013 with the headliners being Tim Mcgraw and Carrie Underwood. Tim Mcgraw is my sister’s favourite singer and so me, her and my brother in law decided to get tickets to see Tim on the Saturday night. Unfortunately we couldn’t afford tickets for the Sunday as well so I missed Carrie which was disappointing as I have been a fan since her American Idol days. This year however, I finally got to see her in action as she was the Saturday headliner and it was definitely worth the wait.
Acts for C2C were announced in December and Saturday was definitely the most exciting for me. On the main stage were Maddie and Tae (I have been listening to them a lot since they released their EP a couple of years ago), Sam Hunt, Little Big Town (who we discovered at the first C2C and have seen live since) and of course the incredible Carrie Underwood. As well as the main stage, I was slightly overexcited to hear that Lauren Alaina, also of American Idol fame, was playing at the O2 Indigo. She is one of my favourite Idol Alums (my brother in law also has a crush on her!) so we made sure we were queued up early to see her. After watching an interview with Charles Esten at the Indigo, best known recently as playing Deacon Claybourne in Nashville we queued up at the same venue and ended up front row to watch Lauren. Lauren was fabulous live. Her voice was amazingly strong and she definitely knew how to work the crowd with her Georgia charm. I was a little disappointed that she didn’t sing more songs from her first album however her new EP has some great tracks on it and she sang these brilliantly. Her enthusiasm for being in London was infectious and I wouldn’t hesitate to get tickets to see her live again if she was ever to come back to the UK. Fingers crossed.
First up on the main stage were Maddie and Tae, another act I was excited to see. Their set was superb and they did a great job of opening the night. With catchy songs such as ‘Shut Up and Fish’ and ‘Sierra’, the girls had a lot of people up and dancing which can be a hard task for the smaller acts. Their energy was high and they put on a great show (my sister hadn’t heard their stuff before and was a fan after!) including a beautiful rendition of my favourite song of theirs, ‘Fly’.
Next up was Sam Hunt, who I had listened to a little bit before the concert; to get acquainted with his music. He seems to be a big hit with some of his country music peers including Lady Antebellum and Keith Urban but in my opinion his set had a little too much of a ‘hip-hop’ vibe for my liking. He had a few good songs that I could sing along with but he was probably my least favourite of the day.
After Sam Hunt, Little Big Town took to the stage with a haunting a cappella version of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’. This got the crowd’s attention and they then lead into their hit ‘Little White Church’. As mentioned earlier, I first discovered Little Big Town at C2C in 2013 and they were so good live, even though I didn’t know any of their songs back then, that I had to start listening to them. They are an amazing live act with great stage presence and their rocky style of country really gets the crowd going.
Finally, after waiting 11 years to see her live, it was time for Carrie Underwood to grace the stage. She opened up with a song from her latest album, ‘Runaway Renegade’ and this set the tone for the rest of her set. For the next hour and a half, Carrie was a powerhouse; singing her best known songs as well as tracks from her latest album, ‘Storyteller’. Her voice was incredible and I was amazed that she could keep belting out the songs so well for that length of time. It just shows what a talent she is. One of my favourite tracks from her new album is ‘Church Bells’ and I did let out a little scream when she started to sing it! It is a great example of the ‘stories’ she tells in her songs and this is a theme that runs through country music and probably why I like it so much. Unlike some music, country artists tell stories with their music and it can be very heartfelt and deep at times.
Although I was enjoying the uptempo tracks from Carrie, I was hoping she would sing some slower songs too to show off her voice even more. She didn’t sing many however she did stop for one slower moment to sing ‘I will Always Love You’ the second Dolly Parton cover of the evening. She did a beautiful rendition and her voice was outstanding, showing why she was originally picked to be the American Idol back in season 4. Finishing the evening with ‘Smoke Break’ and a song from her greatest hits ‘Something in the Water’, Carrie completed the day in style. Her talent was incredible and she was the highlight of the day for me. I can’t wait to find out who is going to be on next year and do it all again!