C2C - Country To Country Festival
The inaugural Country To Country festival opened it's doors yesterday - Saturday 16th March. Doors officially opened at midday but ticket holding patrons could arrive whenever they chose to. Whilst the main concert didn't start till 4:45pm there was plenty going on. The O2 was lined by a large selection of restaurants and included 'The Town Square', an area filled with various clothing, footwear and food stalls. Whilst the inclusion of 'The Town Square' was a good idea I did feel that the majority of the stalls were either overpriced or were items that wouldn't be worn on a day to day basis.
The main doors to the arena soon opened and Kristian Bush took the stage for a 45 minute set. I had spoken to a few fans beforehand and a lot of people were intrigued to see what Kristian would bring (having been most well known as one half of Sugarland) but I thought he did very well. He sang a lot of his own songs which was very brave and did a lovely version of Sugarland's hit Baby Girl about halfway through the set (the only Sugarland song he sang).
Kristian has an adaptable voice that allowed him to show his versatility in both upbeat songs and slower, more heartfelt numbers. His set was full of energy and had people up on their feet multiple times. He also told the audience that he will have a surprise on Monday so I'd definitely say keep an eye out!
Little Big Town's harmonies are exquisite live and they merged slower songs with faster, more up-tempo numbers such as Pavement Ends, Front Porch Thing and Boondocks. It was also great to hear their 'Scattered, Smothered and Covered' version of Lady Gaga's Born This Way, something that it seemed a large part of the audience hadn't heard before.
Whilst I didn't know any of Vince Gill's songs I was intrigued to hear him live. He didn't disappoint. He held the audience's attention for the entirety of his 75 minute set and he is certainly an amazing guitar player. He interacted well with such a huge audience and made everyone smile.
He also merged his songs well after humorously explaining to the audience that since reaching 55 his doctor has told him he can only sing one fast song at a time so he interspersed them with "pretty" songs which were very sincerely performed.
Lastly Tim McGraw took the stage. I'm not a huge fan of Tim's but having recently bought his new album I was excited to see the set. Unfortunately I was a little disappointed. His slower songs such as Nashville Without You and Friend Of A Friend were lovely but I felt a lot of the time he was just overly loud. He did seem to be entertaining a large part of the crowd but I personally felt there was just too much noise and production that stopped me being able to enjoy the 90 minute set as much as I would have liked to as the production overshadowed his vocals.
Whilst I am aware that not every artist can sing every song you want them to, I would have loved to have heard Tim McGraw sing songs such as Annie I Owe You A Dance and Number 37405 when he really could have showcased his voice.
Throughout all of the sets I thought it was nice to hear old songs as well as newer songs. I did however think it was a shame that a lot of the audience didn't enter the arena until just before Vince Gill took the stage, thereby missing two brilliant sets from Kristian Bush and Little Big Town and that some people were walking in and out during the sets.
All in all I think it was a brilliant day and hope that this is the beginning of an annual Country To Country Festival.