C2C Country To Country 2016: part two

Following on from part one part one of our look back at C2C Country To Country 2016 we take a look at the rest of the acts from the main stage over the three days. Focussing on Friday and Saturday means that two of the biggest female acts in the US took to British stages.

Before that though Maddie and Tae opened the O2 main stage on Saturday with a winning set of perky country-pop. It’s a mix that causes much consternation amongst fans of traditional country but Madison Marlow and Taylor Dye balance that perfectly. They write their own tunes, the witty and ubiquitous ‘Girl In A Country Song’ included, and have a great ear for the hook. ‘Shut Up and Fish’ is pure country, but why bother with the straightforward cover of ‘Umbrella’? Little Big Town showed how to cover a song, their version of the well known ‘The Chain’ was more twangy and harmony driven than the Fleetwood Mac original, and formed part of a hugely crowd pleasing set. The foursome are the hardest working act of the weekend, and have probably the best received setlist. ‘Day Drinking’ gets arms aloft, and Karen Fairchild’s perfect rendition of ‘Girl Crush’ silences the arena.

The Yamaha stage on Friday was a treat, with Charles Esten from TV’s Nashville doing a surprisingly good ten minutes, including a country-fried cover of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’. Then Ashley Monroe took over for an all too short three songs that were the perfect taster for her longer sets in Dublin and Glasgow, and her headlining show at London’s Bush Hall. And ‘Weed Instead Of Roses’ is an example of what makes Monroe so appealing; clever, melodic, and slightly controversial.

The dual mega-superstars headlining the Friday and Saturday nights meant the UK was treated to Miranda Lambert for the first time, and Carrie Underwood for the second time at C2C. Lambert’s set was functional more than it was exciting, and the nerves that she mentioned more than once popped up as the beginning of one song ended prematurely. She ran through all her big songs, ‘Baggage Claim’ is on the nose clever and has a real country swagger, and ‘All Kinds of Kind’ is a lovely concept that got arms swaying. But that special something was missing.

Which is not an accusation you could level at Underwood barnstorming Saturday night set. The huge voice is matched by the drama of songs like ‘Blown Away’ and a stunning acoustic version of Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’. But the American Idol winners real star quality is shown in the sheer variety of tunes she has; the bad girl swagger of ‘Something Bad’, the beautiful sentiments of ‘Heartbeat’, the country-funk of the harmonica driven ‘Choctaw County Affair’, the list goes on. Of all the acts over C2C 2016 it was Underwood that brought undeniable glitz and star power. Roll on 2017.

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