Kacey Musgraves - Bush Hall, London
Although country music has never been embraced fully by the UK it seems to have become more popular in recent years, with stars like Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum all making waves and selling out shows.
The latest singer to try her hand over here is Kacey Musgraves. Kacey unleashed her first album on a major label Same Trailer Different Park last month in the States and performed a headline show at London's Bush Hall on the day of its release here.
I can't say I'm the biggest country fan in the world but I have dipped in and out of the genre. I've a feeling American Idol has been partly to blame for my country curiosity over the years, as they always wheel out one or two country singers each season, including the aforementioned Miss Underwood and Kellie Pickler (currently wowing everyone on Dancing With The Stars).
US drama Nashville has also delivered an inspiring soundtrack during its first season (including a track co-written by Kacey), leading me to seek out the original recordings where possible and also giving me the urge to seek out a few new country artistes.
I came across the video for Kacey's debut US single 'Merry Go Round' towards the end of 2012. I was looking forward to her album release and as it was appearing in March Stateside was hoping that she'd pop up at Austin's SXSW, an event I attend every year. Sadly it wasn't to be, although I did get to see a great set from another hot country act, Ashley Monroe. I managed to pick up Kacey's album on import last month, really appreciating the collection, so was looking forward to her Bush Hall show and wasn't disappointed.
Kacey's first British headliner seemed to be a big event in the country calendar as the gig was rammed and there were plenty audience members that had travelled from other parts of the UK to attend, with many having devoured the contents of Same Trailer... long before its release over here, if their singing along was anything to go by.
The singer's set was pulled mostly from her debut, with 'Blowin Smoke', album opener 'Silver Lining' and 'Stupid' early standouts down the Bush, a venue whose name brought much hilarity to Kacey throughout the night! In addition to the Bush gags there was a lot of between song chat produced during the evening, with mentions of English bacon, English accents, Gypsies and Whispering Bob Harris (sounding like a regal lion) all causing the crowd to smile.
Although firmly routed in the country tradition Kacey's songs have the opportunity to appeal to a far wider audience as they are very commercial, especially 'Merry Go Round' (currently on Radio 2's playlist) and "song of the night", 'Follow Your Arrow'. 'Arrow' is a great rousing track and one that the songstress feels strong about as it concerns people doing just what they want to do. The song contains a cheeky drug reference in the chorus which just might stifle its airplay mind you.
In addition to the uptempo "Trailer" numbers there were a couple of slower tracks on show, including album closer 'It Is What It Is' (a track Kacey's Grandma refers to as 'The Slut Song'!) and 'Keep It To Yourself'.
The audience were also treated to a couple of tracks not on Kacey's debut, 'Mama's Broken Heart', a song she co-wrote for Miranda Lambert's album Four The Record and a surprise inclusion of Weezer's 'Island In The Sun', a song she's been covering back home while on tour with Kenny Chesney.
After a stomping set closer 'My House' (which would have caused a hoedown if the room had been bigger!) Kacey and her band returned for an encore of a song she hadn't played for around three years, that I believe was called 'Things To Face'. It was a great way to end the evening but what was surprising (and a little bit sad) was the fact that she said she'd never really had an encore before! If that's really true I'm sure this was the first of many to follow as Kacey and her band gave a phenomenal performance and I'd certainly recommend catching her live. The singer mentioned she'd be back in the fall, so keep your eyes peeled y'all!