To start off by saying I was a little excited was a slight understatement. Despite not having a train down to London until 12:00, I ended up waking up at 8:00, unable to sleep and wanting to get on the road to the festival.
Unfortunately when it came to travelling we booked our tickets before the lineup was announced arriving in London from Manchester at 14:00 with the wonderful RaeLynn due to perform at 14:45 it was a rush across London. We made it to the North Greenwhich but not the hotel and after checking in and taking the cable car across the river we arrived just at the end of her set.
So our Country to Country journey started with one of a surprise performances of the weekend for me, Jimmie Allen. I honestly didn’t know what to expect and was presently surprised by him. Really loved the song “All Tractors Ain’t Green” and has been played many times since returning from the weekend and he also provided one of the funniest moments of the weekend, documented on his Instagram. When he went to play “County Lines” but instead started singing “American Heartbreaker” before proceeding to mock himself by his error by suggesting they just give record deals to anyone theses days. Overall a good performance and a great way to start of the weekend and if you haven’t checked him out you certainly should.
We then headed into the Arena for Chase Rice. Who provided a fun and energetic way to open up the main stage. While not the best performance of the weekend over all he was certainly better than some act that were on the main stage to follow. He was followed by Adam Hambrick on the spotlight stage. I am disappointed to say I really don’t remember anything about him so we will just move on.
Following up on the main stage we then had CAM! But not before we get to one of my biggest complaints over the weekend and that was the staff at the O2 Arena. There is normally a 15-20 minute gap between the end of the Spotlight stage and the start of the next opening act. In previous years this has been plenty of time for a bathroom break and a beer pitstop. I am not sure if the issue was caused by them having the use the County to Country branded glasses or just the staff on the bar were slow but on the Friday it took nearly 15 minutes to get served one pint. On the Saturday I timed it on my phone 20 minutes from joining to que to ordering and ended up missing parts of the performances.
This was especially annoying as Cam was someone I was really looking forward to seeing. Having enjoyed her when she toured back in October of last year and even though I missed Diane due to being late from the bar, I don’t think she disappointed in the time she was given. “My Mistake” was as catchy as ever and loved her cover of the Dolly Parton classic, Jolene. Then she ended with “Burning House” which is one of my favourite songs to hear her sing. If you don’t know the story behind that song it’s quite interesting and worth looking up, as it gives a lot of extra meaning to the vocals. My only complaint with Cam’s set was she did do a number of covers while choosing to leave off her songs I would have liked to have heard such as her last single Road to Happiness. A small nit-pick but doesn’t take away from a show stealing performance and definitely one of the weekend highlights. I think a lot of people would have fallen in love with her music.
Heading back to the Spotlight stage Abby Anderson who has an infectious personality. She just seems like such a wonderful person and made a lasting impression with the small amount of time she is given on the spotlight stage. Having listened to her EP, I wasn’t a fan of “I’m Good” but she won we over this weekend and was a great choice to bring Jimmie Allen back on stage to perform their cover of “Shallow” from the film A Star is Born. They have released that on Itunes and Spotify and is well worth adding to any music library.
Following up on main stage was Brett Eldredge. I think the 3rd spot in the arena was cursed this year but Brett, despite the comparisons to the TV presenter Nick Knowles was definitely the best out the three people to round up the undercard. I do like the song “Something I’m Good At” but the rest of his performance just didn’t seem to click with me and while he wasn’t bad. I think he was the worst on one of the stronger nights of the festival and gave a perfectly acceptable, while not outstanding account of himself.
Rounding up the Spotlight stage was the amazing Runaway June, unfortunately I can’t comment on this performance as due to bar issues earlier and not wanting to miss any off Keith I decided to skip it. Nothing against the girls and I’ll be talking about them in my day two and day three reviews. Still sacrifices have to be made and they were given a bad spot.
Now for the main event of the evening which certainly didn’t disappoint, Keith Urban. This was my first time seeing a Keith Urban show as wasn’t able to go last time he toured and living in Manchester was at Ward Thomas on the Wednesday when he played in London early that week. I had high expectations and boy did he deliver. I was blown away during his set. There was so much raw energy in the room as he performed hit after hit. The crowd were really into it and he seemed to be enjoying himself on stage.
He also gave us one of the funniest moments I have ever seen on stage with Ralph. His inability to understand the Scottish accent made for comedy gold. 12 years was certainly to long but he made up for it. Confused that one review in the newspaper only gave him a ⅗ stars. Not sure what show they were attending, as I can’t find the words to describe what i was watching.
Capping off night one of the festival we have another surprise discovery. As we only got after party tickets for RaeLynn on the Sunday we headed upstairs to All Bar One for the James Barker Band. I hadn’t heard to his guys until I stepped into the venue but thats one of the best parts about going to a music festival is discovering new artists. Now even though I had a restricted view, due to my height so couldn’t see much of anything the music was damn good. This is a band you should take your time to go and listen to. I was hoping to see them again on the Sunday but unfortunately wasn’t to be as there session in the Loft was delayed due to a car accident.
Still it was a great way to start this three day country music event. I’ll be back with another blog post soon reviewing Country to Country day’s two and three with all the spotlight acts I managed to fit in during the weekend.