16 March 2014 (gig)
19 March 2014
If the 50,000 fans who swarmed into the O2 in London and Dublin this weekend are anything to go by, Country music is alive and kicking it’s cowboy boots in the UK! No shortage of Stetsons and enthusiasm at the O2 on Sunday. Pop-up stages around the branded ‘streets’ inside the Dome were there for everyone to enjoy and pulled enthusiastic crowds.
Grammy nominated Chris Young kicked off the acts on the Arena stage with a heart-felt set that ranged from stripped back acoustic ballads to guitar riffs reminiscent of Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top. Talking about his varied influences minutes before heading into the giant dome he said ‘at the end of the day when I open my mouth, I sound country’ and it’s true. His sonorous vocals are rich and rangy and his smoky look to camera is pretty irresistible.
Things got a little scary when sibling trio ‘The Band Perry’ from Mobile Alabama, decided to honour ‘your great country’ by dimming the lights, playing ‘God save the Queen and carrying a giant British flag onto the stage. There was a terrified silence across the arena… but Kimberley Perry and her brothers were not perturbed as they bounded to the end of the set with relentless enthusiasm and therapeutic messages of inspiration for a teenage fan-base.
Rascal Flatt’s who are hugely respected in the states with their immaculate twangy harmonies and slick guitar riffs preceded the real star of the night -Brad Paisley. Paisley looks the part of archetypal country hero, with white Stetson, tight jeans and cheeky moustache but well-crafted songs like 'Southern Comfort zone' reveal a self-awareness that takes the tedium out of the conservative white American country scene. And this natural performer plays his paisley-patterned Telecaster brilliantly. The projections on the great screen behind the stage at C2C were inspired – live video feed interacting with Marvel superheroes and alien attackers. It’s clear that Country music has found a new lease of life in the UK and it’s acts like Brad Paisley that are going to keep the scene evolving.