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Megan McKenna – Live at Birmingham O2 Institute – Live Review/Interview

Megan McKenna’s headline acoustic tour was almost midway come Birmingham. We arrived at the venue just as her fan meet and greet was underway. It was interesting to watch the impact Megan has on her fans and quite moving seeing fans cry and how well Megan greeted each fan like an old friend. Megan spent a generous amount of time with each fan making them all feel special. When the meet and greet was over Megan too greeted us with open arms and her warming personality that she has always had with us.  The previous night Megan had played The Borderline in London and was still buzzing from both London and opening night at Southend and immediately said to us;

Opening night was amazing! The crowd..I always get worried about people turning up but it was such an amazing turnout. Last night (London) the crowd was out of this world. I came out and everyone knew every word, I am talking every word. It made me feel so emotional especially because I wrote some of the songs and they mean so much to me.”

Asking her if that makes her more nervous singing her own songs she said “It does makes me nervous but I also worry I am going to forget the words because that would be embarrassing on my own song haha”

The London show was at The Borderline, a home to many great artists for many years and a huge supporter of country music. I mentioned the recent news of how The Borderline is sadly closing down.

Yeah they said it was closing, I am gutted as it is such a nice venue. It has a cool hallway and a great vibe. It’s sad and also in Nashville they closed down Bobby’s Idle Hour (however it has recently been given a new home I believe). It is sad to see these venues close down.”  Agreeing about how sad it is I mentioned Megan’s favourite venue The Bluebird and how I hoped that venue will never close down...”They better not do it to the Bluebird, surely they can’t?” Still speaking of the Iconic Bluebird Café in Nashville, I had to ask about Megan’s time playing there….

Honestly it was unreal, it was even better this time. They are so lovely in there and do you know what? Because I am always so nervous as there is never anyone from London there, when I get up it is quite a big deal with my British accent and everyone is like “oh my god.” They quite like it though haha and they are really welcoming and love my music. They were (the audience) laughing at everything I was saying and liked my personality. I sang three songs and they loved Story of Me”.

Story of Me is an album full of some really cracking tunes. Curious to know what songs get the best reactions live she answered; “Odds, the audience seem to really love Odds. Story of Me so far on this tour you can literally hear a pin drop during that song, I am guessing that is because they like it. Actually lots of people are also singing back to Paperboy”. 

Of the decision to do an acoustic tour Megan explained “Being at The Bluebird, I love that vibe” (The Bluebird Café showcases rising talent to a small audience as well as hosting songwriters rounds to well established songwriters and artists. Taylor Swift was discovered there). ” I love the vibe that people walk in and it is just about the singing and the song, the music. Don’t get me wrong, I love shows with a big band but I felt that this album (Story of Me) is so personal that it needed that intimate feel. I wanted people to experience what I experience when I go to Nashville. I am going to be telling the stories behind the songs as people don’t really know the backstory”.

Agreeing about that intimate vibe and that her music really needs to be heard in that way, it was on with the show. Braving the ridiculous heat in the venue at O2 Institute 3, Megan McKenna was met by a very eager sold-out crowd all of whom had clearly been waiting a long time for this moment, a long time to see her live.

Megan skipped on stage joining her guitarist and keyboardist for this special acoustic evening. Beginning her set with How Many Times from her debut album Story of Me, the crowd sing-along was “loud and proud” and this intimate show, despite the heat felt like an exclusive fan get-together.

Megan is a natural on stage. Her inviting personality shone on stage and if you weren’t a fan before, you certainly were now. Fans were constantly commenting on how good her voice was and they were right.

Megan’s mums favourite track (as told in a recent interview with us) Paperboy was next and was followed by the personal Everything But You which Megan co-wrote with Amy Wadge. The melodic track was perfect in its acoustic setting and really showcased Megan’s vocals. Things became a bit more upbeat with the fun-lovin’ track History which Megan always seems to have a lot of fun performing.

A huge Kacey Musgraves fan, Megan delivered a beautiful version of Slow Burn from Musgraves’ current Grammy award winning album Golden Hour.  Title track off album Story of Me was incredibly emotive live and Megan’s vocal delivery was sensational and it was clear the song meant a lot to her. Her engaged fans appreciated the lyrics honesty.

This acoustic setting was a perfect way for Megan to not only express her talent for songwriting but to show her fans a bit of how Nashville does country music best and that it is in these intimate settings that give the fans a lot more than just a show.

An obvious fan favourite of the night was the Lauren Alaina penned track Odds. A fun, uplifting track that is hard not to love, the crowd went mad for the song and it was clear how overwhelmed Megan was with the crowd participation – so much so we all sang the chorus a few times at the end with a good old chant, it was really good fun.

One of the first songs Megan released came next with Far Cry From Love which was written during her mini-docu series There’s Something About Megan. The song was even better in a live setting and actually won me over as was previously my least favourite off the album. This was followed by a very fun Ariana Grande Medley which seemed to delight the audience. Not many people can pull off an Ariana vocal but Megan nailed it.

Megan shared with the audience the story of going back to Nashville to write with Beth Nielson Chapman with whom she wrote Far Cry From Love. Explaining how Beth brings out a lot in her songwriting wise, Megan spoke of Beth’s wonderful home and how at ease she felt with her. Telling Beth she has always wanted to write about her Grandfather, Megan tells the audience how he was her biggest supporter and always encouraged her to follow her dream despite having set backs and “No’s” from the industry. Performing her new song Stronger  (which Megan told us was literally recorded into a phone) in dedication to her grandfather, the beautiful, emotive song would have clearly made him proud. Megan said she wanted to test this song out on her fans so do tweet her with your thoughts.

For the encore, Megan began with Headline which was a highlight of the evening and sounds even better live. A cover of Somewhere Over The Rainbow followed which was breathtaking and she closed the set with debut single High Heeled Shoes – everyone sang along and it was certainly the loudest moment of the evening.

The only downside was the heat, however, the fans handled it wonderfully and stuck it out for the entire show.

Overall, it was a really fun night with a crowd full of mega fans and great music. Megan is a wonderful performer with a truly exceptional voice. I would definitely go and see Megan again and hope the Dixie Fields Festival goers check out her set as they will be in for a treat. Megan will be opening Dixie Fields in her home turf of Essex. Megan said “I will have a full band. All my friends and family will be there, I am getting them all out to the show”. 

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Categories: Latest, Live Reviews, UK Artists

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