It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who’s been to a country show that the audience brings a whole other level of energy compared to a pop or rock concert.
And the atmosphere was even more attentive as Willie Jones took to the stage to warm up for Michael Ray last Tuesday- and the newcomer sure knows how to entertain an intrigued crowd.
At first those at Bush Hall in London appeared to be on the edge, deciding whether they would jump over the line and embrace this country mixed with hip hop and hints of R&B sound.
But by a few songs in Willie had everyone on side and dancing along to his catchy yet full of feeling lyrics, I mean who can resist the pull of Bachelorettes on Broadway?
Jam packed with hilarious images of drunk girls celebrating their pal’s last weekend of freedom, what we in the UK affectionately know as a Hen weekend, Willie reveals his talent for storytelling.
Another standout of his performance was his hypeman, Kermit, rocking behind him with the decks and regular shouts of ‘Willlliiieee’ and ‘put your hands up’ – not what you’d expect on a Tuesday.
One tune even boasted the lyric ‘listening to a drake song’ – how many country music die hards would openly admit to that?
But the audience embraced this full-heartedly and by the time Willie launched into his more emotional tunes, they were 100 per cent there for it.
Lead Me Back Home is a swooning tribute to his beloved family back home in Shreveport, Louisiana, showing off his ‘momma’s boy’ credentials.
While Runs In Our Blood gives a more balanced presentation of his blended sound and includes things which most holds dear: friends, drinking and kin.
As the singer hit the memorable chorus and title line many in the audience were singing along and swaying with the beat, becoming fully fledged Willie fans.
Willie also performed his new release Whole Lotta Love, which he described in a BOON interview as coming ‘from real life and is about having somebody who loves you through thick and thin’.
This track gives him the chance to showcase his impressive vocal range against a strong back beat, which will certainly be sang back to him by crowds for a long time to come.
Willie’s first London show was full of electric energy and proved that country doesn’t have to come packaged up in a plaid shirt to fit the genre.
Review by Bryony Jewell