Hearing that Maren Morris was not only going to be returning to the UK for one special night in London’s Omeara but that she was also going to be playing a very rare acoustic set was an opportunity hardcore Maren fans never thought they were going to experience. As if the acoustic set wasn’t enough, the fact it was in a venue with a capacity of about 300 was almost unbelievable. As you would imagine, the show was like the hottest ticket in town and it sold out in one minute leaving many fans disappointed but those who got tickes ecstatic.
Maren’s popularity within the UK has grown rapidly over the last couple of years and it isn’t hard to see why. We couldn’t believe it when she was announced as part of the Spotlight Stage at C2C Festival back in 2016 and it was that small set that she heard her now hit My Church sung back to her for the first time ever. Since then, Maren released her debut studio album Hero, has won a Grammy, CMA Awards and has been back to play the UK on the main stage at C2C Festival 2017 and played her own headline tour later that year.
The night of the Omeara was named Acoustic Revival and this night was a night everyone had been waiting for since it was announced. We were likely to never experience anything quite like this again.
The Omeara is one of the nicest venues in London. A hidden gem if you will, this tucked away venue is so spectacular and visually stunning that seeing anyone play there is an experience.
Maren took to the stage in a gorgeous tartan, full length skirt and a lovely red mini top. Joined on stage by her band members Annie Clements on the upright Bass and Bennet Lewis on the acoustic guitar, Maren stood centre with her guitar and broke into fan favourite Drunk Girls Don’t Cry that fans had been requesting for months. The crowd sang along so loudly to every word that it was clear to see how much she means to the UK and also how much the fans mean to Maren. I love this song and was so incredibly glad she sang it and what a way to start the show.
This Acoustic Revival was a great opportunity to hear Maren speak to the audience a lot more. Telling the audience how the decision to make Rich a single was simply down to the fact fans alway sang a long to it so loudly, she further explained how she never expected the song to do so well and although it reached number two, it is a number one in her heart. The acoustic version was fun and you could feel the lyrics more and with the chorus of voices in the crowd singing along, the word Shit was sung with such great forceable energy that Maren had a massive grin on her face.
With the Hero era ending, Maren spoke about the song that the albums title was centred around and sang I Wish I Was which she explained was about a relationship she was in that kept going down but he was never going to end it so she had to.
Having moved to Nashville six years ago to be a songwriter, Maren explains how Kelly Clarkson recorded her song Second Wind but when it got to the point that Maren was going to be singing her own music, she didn’t want the song to not be part of her record and recorded her own version. The inspirational song, which means so much to many was sensational in an acoustic version. Maren’s vocals soared throughout the venue, showcasing her soulful voice that when live, proves her recordings, as good as they are, just don’t do her enough justice.
Bumming Cigarettes from her deluxe version of Hero was next. Telling the story of how her friend came in for a co-write and said to Maren “You know I really have to stop bumming cigarettes from the wrong guys” to which Maren said she replied “Well we are writing THAT today”.
Now if you follow Maren on socials you already knew her husband and fellow singer/songwriter Ryan Hurd was over with her and many of us were hoping that he would join her on stage at some point. So when it came to sharing the story behind the song Last Turn Home which she wrote with Ryan Hurd, he of course joined her on stage to sing it. Telling us how the first song they wrote together was awful and called something along the lines of P.a.r.t.y (I couldn’t quite hear) they were relieved to have been set up for a further writing sessions where they produced Last Train Home. The song was cut by Tim McGraw two days after they wrote it and Maren said how if she and Ryan ever build their own home, own street, they will call it Last Turn Home Lane. “Don’t google map it” Ryan laughed “It doesn’t exsist yet“.
Maren’s good friends Brothers Osborne are currently in the UK at the moment and she talked about writing their song Greener Pastures with them and went on to sing her version. Probably the most country sounding song of the evening, Maren’s version was of course beautifully done. A cover of John Prine’s Angel from Montgomery followed. The first song Maren ever learned to play on guitar at about nine years old, her version was so gorgeous that I hope she one day records her own version. In fact it was so good it made me wish that the entire night was being recorded.
2017 saw the tragic events of Route 91 Festival in Vegas. Maren played the night before the shootings and struggling to find words she remembered she had written a song a while back titled Dear Hate that related to the incident. A song meant simply to help people heal and for the profits to go the families of the victims, Maren’s story behind the song was incredibly emotional but also powerful and inspiring. The song of course is very moving and beautifully written and sung.
Moving on to what she says is a happier song, Maren told us of a friend that stayed with a guy simply for his “cool car”. Out of this conversation 80’s Mercedes was born. A massive crowd sing along, Maren hilariously forgot the words to the second verse and had to be helped out by her guitarist. Moments like that though are great as you feel more connected with the artist.
I think I speak for everyone when I say we were all hoping to hear a new song. A newly wed to Ryan Hurd, Maren introduced the new song being inspired by the fact her husband loves her for who she is, for her past, her skeletons her everything. The song To Hell and Back was as brilliant as you would expect and certainly a good indication of just how unbelievable her new album is going to be.
Most country fans know that playing women on the radio is bit of a struggle. Maren shared a story of how a radio guy who is “no longer in his job” tried to talk her out of releasing I Could Use A Love Song as a single because “Nobody wants to hear sad women on the radio” . Thankfully she didn’t listen and the song got to number one and he is no longer in his job. One of the most breathtaking songs from her Hero album, the song live acoustic was mind blowing and the emotion and soulfulness in her voice was incredible.
Maren’s recent collaboration with Zedd and Grey didn’t get forgotten in this wonderful acoustic set and the three musicians on stage performed The Middle as an acoustic song for the first time. To hear this song in such a way was unforgettable and in the best kind of way. Maren could sing anything and she would have had the audience falling. Closing the night with the song that got it all started My Church, the crowd sing a long was loud, proud and everyone was feeling the same thing; that this night was never going to be forgotten.
One of the best, if not the best gigs of 2018, Maren truly is a superstar that should be all over the mainstream charts. One of the best voices you will ever hear, her vocal talents are wonderfully matched by her empowering and smart, slick lyrics and energising and sublime melodies.
Maren will return to the UK next year; dates not yet revealed but The Royal Albert Hall will be amongst them.