Will Hoge, The Stables Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes, The Stables Stage 2

Friday, 4th September 2015

Brian Kilian
Brady Beard
Dean Moore
Patrick Stevens

Set list 
(please note - this is the official set list, not all of which was actually played!)
Through Missing You
Silver And Gold
Growing Up Around Here
Better Off Now
Too Old To Die Young
When I Can Afford To Lose
Desperate Times
Better Than You
Damn Spotlight (Julia's Song)
Home Is Where The Heart Breaks
Fool's Gonna Fly
Middle Of America
Another Song Nobody Will Hear
Still Got You On My Mind
Little Bitty Dreams
When I Get My Wings
Daddy Was A Gambling Man
Even If It Breaks Your Heart
Til I Do It Again
The Highway's Home

Last night's Will Hoge show started relatively late into the evening, with no opening act. There was immediately a sense of excited buzz as soon as the doors were opened and after a short wait Will took the stage for two songs on his own. It was soon clear that Will's live vocal is just as impressive as what listeners will hear on his albums and he seemed at home and comfortable on the small stage.

The set list featured a strong mix of tracks from his new album Small Town Dreams and older tracks from previous albums and seemed to travel smoothly throughout all of them. Talking was kept to a comfortable minimum, Will interacting with the audience very well but showing how much the music means and it was great to be able to hear so many songs included. Will shared a few funny anecdotes and it felt as though all of the audience were enjoying both the brilliant music and the interaction, Will frequently making everybody laugh. Even if you weren't necessarily familiar with every single song on the nearly two hour long set that didn't seem to matter, Will's storytelling skill really shining through and the impressively slick band pitching the instrumentalisation at just the right level.

It was great to hear one of my personal favourites from Will's new album, Little Bitty Dreams. Given slightly more production than the studio version, Will's vocal oozed emotion into what is lyrically a very touching track and from the applause at the end it seemed as though a lot of the audience connected with it also! It was also interesting to hear Better Off Now and Even If It Breaks Your Heart, both songs recorded by other artists. In my opinion Will performed both tracks incredibly well (and better than the subsequent re-recordings from Lady Antebellum and Eli Young Band respectively) and I honestly can not say enough good things about his skill as both a song-writer and a performer.

There wasn't a weak song in the set, Will and his band travelling through tracks such as Growing Up Around Here, Home Is Where The Heart Breaks and Another Song Nobody Will Hear seamlessly. There was substantial applause (and often whistles) at the end of every track from an audience who were clearly enjoying the show and seemingly hearing some of their own favourite tracks.

The last track of the set came far too quickly, Will closing with The Highway's Home. A strong song in itself, the moment was made even stronger when the band put down their instruments, Will unplugged his guitar and, stepping down to the floor in front of the stage, they segued into a short rendition of Hank Williams' I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry. You could truly hear a pin drop in the reaction from the audience, really great moment. Will was then escorted from the venue with a well deserved standing ovation from the hugely appreciative audience.

Will returned to the room after the show to sign merchandise and talk to the audience (I noticed many people leaving with three or four CDs!) As I was able to speak to Will earlier this year it was great to finally be able to meet him in person and he again proved what a sweet, down to earth person he is. We also discussed Will's plans to return to the UK early next year, I am definitely planning on seeing him live again!

Throughout the night Will proved that he can stand with, and often surpass, some of the biggest names in country music. Outstanding set from Will's first UK performance with his band, I would urge anyone to buy tickets to his remaining UK tour dates (details of which you can find here), do not miss out on the chance to see this brilliant artist live.

Credit to Dragon Photography for the photos!