C2C Country To Country 2019: The festival stages review
We told you our views on the arena shows of C2C Country To Country, how great Cam, Lyle Lovett, Chris Stapleton, and Carly Pearce were, and how un-great Chase Rice was, but now let's talk about the festival stages. These are the stages that C2C set up around the O2, ranging from the Academy sized Indigo at the O2, to the outdoor festival-like Town Square, and much smaller "pop-up" stage the Icon Stage.
Where many artists played multiple days, Ingrid Andress only appeared on the Friday in London, and her appearance at the Town Square left you wanting more. Accompanied just by her piano it was a swift and streamlined set that bodes extremely well for any future releases and was capped off by the terrific 'Lady Like', her first single. Kicking things off at the Town Square was Logan Mize whose gravelly brand of country-rock was a decent way to kick of the whole three days of music. The first real star of the weekend was Lainey Wilson. Her short, but full band, set at the Town Square showed that she needed something bigger, and her Sunday performance on the BBC Radio 2 Stage demonstrated she can handle the larger crowd and space. Stutting confidently about, engaging with the audience, Lainey has the tunes to back up her stage presence, 'Middle Finger' is a particular joy, but 'Workin' Overtime' and 'Waste Of Good Whiskey' are truly terrific.
Also taking easily to the larger BBC Radio 2 Stage were Texan Raelynn who switched between touching songs like 'Diamonds' and country-pop stompers like her recent single 'Rowdy', in an all-round fun set. She was followed by another fun act, Jimmie Allen, who as well as having an extra special wardrobe selection packed his set with songs from his debut record, Mercury Lane. Tracks like 'Best Shot' and 'American Heartbreaker' sounded all the better for being played acoustically.
Other acts turning in star-making turns across the weekend were James Barker Band, songwriter Travis Denning (turns out his single 'David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs' is true), the UK's own Twinnie ('Better When I'm Drunk' is a cracking country-pop song) who held court on Sunday at the BBC Radio 2 Stage and seemed totally at home, and especially the Runaway June trio who had one of the songs of the weekend in 'Wild West'. Also deserving of a mention are New Zealander Kaylee Bell and Ireland's own Megan O'Neill who was a welcome returnee across the weekend.
Alongside Lainey Wilson the two other future stars from the weekend were Lauren Jenkins and Abby Anderson. The former performed with just an acoustic guitar for company which, along with the stories of the words, really brought the lyrics of songs like 'Makers Mark and You' and 'Running Out Of Road' to life and into the C2C hearts. The performer who really endeared themselves to the UK over the weekend was Anderson though, her loveable charm and onstage presence was free of pretence and she was just having fun. As were the C2C crowd, on songs like 'I'm Good' and 'Naked Truth', the sass rang clear and true.
Photography by Luke Dyson and Graham Joy, by permission of The O2.