Festivals

C2C Festival – Day One

Nashville comes to London for the third year running

There is something about walking in to the 02 Arena when Country 2 Country Festival is on that is like no other event. Although it is only on its third year, it already feels like home.

As soon as you enter the Arena you get a sudden feeling of excitement and that isn’t just over the artists or over the many stalls full of Country CD’s, Cowboy boots and Southern food, its also the excitement of the overall atmosphere.

As you walk around the 02 you find yourself looking at everyone attending, admiring their t-shirts, boots and Cowboy hats. There is a sense of belonging as you know that whoever you speak to you will have a decent conversation with because having a love for Country Music isn’t just a love for a Genre but it is almost like a lifestyle choice, a family and definitely a community.  Knowing that fans from all over the UK and beyond have travelled to be here for the Festival is overwhelming and, having all of us under one roof is, just as The Shires sang, it really is like we have built our own Nashville underneath our grey skies.

When Country 2 Country is on, the whole of the 02 is transformed into our closest version of Broadway in Downtown Nashville. The Restaurants become Honky Tonks, there are pop up stages all over the walk ways. An area is sectioned off and named The Town Square and holds stalls of food, clothes and music stores and another slightly larger pop up stage. This area is also where The CMA Booth is which hosts artist signings.

Those of us who go to many County Music gigs start to see familiar faces wherever we go and it’s also nice to see some of the pop up artists such as Ward Thomas, Sasha McVeigh and Michelle Stodart just walking around at their own leisure amongst all the festival goers.

 

Day one – Saturday 7th March



It is literally impossible to attend every pop up show, signing, guest talk and any other event you wish to at C2C as there is just too much going on at the same time. Speaking for myself and my friends, we were particularly upset that The Shires, Ward Thomas and Sam Hunt were playing around the same time as each other on both days.

The first thing we did was get our tickets to Sam Palladio’s guest talk, which I will review separately, and then we queued up for Kix Brooks signing. Only second in the line, we met some lovely people, shared stories and got tea to keep us occupied, although the milk was forgotten!  Sad but true story.

 Kix seemed to me to be a very lovely, humble man and took time to sign and take photos and make it very personal. I was particularly pleased for the lady in front of me who managed to get all her many items signed, including a Limited Edition Cornflakes box, which had Brooks and Dunn on the front.

The atmosphere was already booming at this point and there was not a lot of room to move.  A massive turnout since C2C’s first Festival where the turnout for the pop ups was an embarrassing number of five to ten people. The standard in the last two years has been so incredible that you have to get to each pop up stage about an hour early to even see anything. This of course is also down to the fact that it is free admission to the pop up stages. Non ticket holders could also go and watch any act they liked outside the Main Arena.

After Kix we attended Sam Palladio’s guest talk. It was worth going to. It was amusing, interesting and fun and he performed a few songs too.

A mad dash was then made to watch The Shires in The Town Square. This performance we could not miss. Having been strong supporters of The Shires since almost the beginning, we had to be there. It was nice to see so many people there for them and singing along to every song. The Shires, as ever, put on a very strong performance in a short time slot. Ensuring they performed all their singles and a few more on top of that, the crowd certainly got going and it was obvious then that The Shires were proving to be a highlight of the whole weekend for a lot of people. I later asked them how different it was to last year’s Festival to which Crissie replied “I can barely move two inches, there are so many people here”.  Ben said “It’s so different, it’s great, everyone has been really supportive and singing along.”

The Shires signed for a very large crowd after their set and it was moving to see how much it meant to fans to meet them. I did feel a tad guilty myself going to say Hi when I had met them a fair few times before, but it was important for me to say a quick Hello.

As the doors for the main arena opened at 3.30, there wasn’t a lot of time to catch more performances as well as having a quick bite to eat.

Once in the arena, we took to our seats which were 4th row Block A1.

 

Brandy Clark was up first.

Having just seen her the night before, I knew she would put on a great show and I was excited to see a longer performance from her this time.

Brandy was absolutely a great start to the main event. She is so charismatic and easy going that it was relaxing as well as fun. The songs she performed included hits she had written or co-written for Kacey Musgraves, Miranda Lambert and The Band Perry. I particularly enjoyed her version of The Band Perry – Better Dig Two. I felt her version was more as it was intended to be; darker, colder and told the story better in a more obsessive love kind of way.

Brandy spends a lot of time looking at the audience and taking it all in, saying a few times how she is overwhelmed with the response to her music here and how she is better know in the UK than on her own home turf. Her album Twelve Stories is a favourite amongst UK Country fans to which she was grateful. She certainly has that cool factor, she doesn’t move a lot on stage but there is something about her that means she doesn’t need to, she is just fascinating to watch.

 

Lee Ann Womack was next to the main stage.

A well respected Country Singer for many years she was in no way unknown to Country fans. With a flawlessly unique tone to her voice, her performance seemed effortless and natural.  She performed old hits as well as new ones and, of course, the crowd all stood up and got moving for her hit song I Hope You Dance. Not knowing too much of Lee Ann myself, I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed watching a more traditional Country Artist with a Country tone to her voice similar to Dolly Parton.

Lee Ann Womack’s Set List included:

All His Saints

Never Again, Again


Twenty Years and Two Husbands Ago


Don’t Listen to the Wind


A Little Past Little Rock


You’ve Got To Talk to Me


Send It On Down


Solitary Thinkin’


I’ll Think of a Reason Later


Wayfaring Stranger


I May Hate Myself in the Morning


The Way I’m Livin’


I Hope You Dance


Ashes by Now



 

Florida Georgia Line were on after Lee Ann.

 

After it was announced they were to attend the C2C, the opinions of fans were split. Many people’s views on the entire weekend was that it was too Bro Country. Bro Country being what is dominating the Country Charts in the US today, with artists such as Florida Georgia Line, Luke Bryan, Brantley Gilbert, Thomas Rhett amongst many more singing about trucks, women and beer. US Country Duo Maddie and Tae also mock Bro Country with their hit single Girl In A Country Song.

I don’t usually listen to Florida Georgia Line but had no doubt that they would put on a good show. Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley gave such an energetic performance that it was hard not to enjoy it. However, my husband said it was one of the Top Ten worst ordeals he had ever been through! I enjoyed it even though it was a tad too loud and many people around me covered their ears!  Am I getting old or what? Stand out performances for me were Dirt and Cruise. I only really knew their singles but always had a soft spot for Dirt. Perhaps because it is more of a song than a mixture of country and hip hop which most of their other singles seem to be. 

Despite not particularly being a fan, Florida Georgia Line were undeniably entertaining, and probably the most memorable act to me on the main stage that day, and I am glad that I got to see them. They had amazing stage presence and jumped around a lot and right at the end ripped both their shirts off and threw them into an eager crowd.

 

 

 

The Headliner of the evening was Luke Bryan. 


 

I was excited to see him as I had been a fan of a song or two of his since 2010 but had never got a chance to see him live up close. I had seen him at CMA Fest before but I was so far back it almost doesn’t count. I had mixed feelings about this performance. One being that I don’t really think too much to his music to listen to. You cannot fault Luke on his ability to entertain and can certainly see why he won Entertainer of The Year, however I found myself longing for a show of decent, good old fashioned, music.  Maybe I wasn’t in the mood. Luke was certainly a favourite amongst the fans and I found myself getting up and dancing when he sang Rain is a Good Thing and My Kinda Night and, of course, Play It Again. I was possibly the only woman in the audience creeped out by his “sexy” moves but. overall he was thoroughly enjoyable, but just simply not my favourite. I think the line up was weak in comparison to as previous years as to variation, but it was still a good night.

 

The new addition of the Satellite stages held at the back of the arena in between acts was a great idea and should definitely stay. I will be writing more on the Satellite Stages separately.

Hannah Compton

March 12th 2015

Photo’s by Jamie Lee Bassingthwaighte

 

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