C2C 2016 - Saturday 12th March

After deciding to head to C2C 2016 for the pop-up stages and having organised a few interviews my C2C kicked off yesterday chatting to the lovely (and hilarious!) American Young. Keep an eye out for my interview with them but, shortly after the interview finished, I was then able to go and see them play live on the Town Square Stage.

Billed as a 'special guest' the duo took the stage at 12:45 with a substantial crowd gathered. I was very excited to see them play live and Kristy and Jon didn't disappoint, shining from the moment they took the stage. Both are clearly talented musicians, artists and song-writers in their own right and they interact incredibly well as a duo as well as their voices blending really well. They drew the audience in through tracks like haunting debut single Love Is War and the brilliantly catchy Point Of View and that initial crowd quickly grew. You couldn't help but smile through Point Of View and as the duo traded lines you got a real sense of both their talent and their friendship. Apart from the duo's own songs, it was also really sweet to hear a performance of the track Kristy had written with Wynn Varble and Joey and Rory Feek, Cheater, Cheater. Taking lead vocals Kristy oozed attitude throughout the track and had people singing along. Listeners also got to hear Jon sing lead vocals on one of the number one songs he has written, A Woman Like You. Originally recorded by Lee Brice, Jon's voice really suits the track and Kristy's harmonies really rounded out the performance. I was, quite honestly, blown away by American Young's set yesterday. Definitely a duo to keep an eye on, they are going to be stars.

Next on the schedule for me was Ashley Campbell's set on the Big Entrance Stage. There can be no doubt that Ashley is both a talented musician and overall artist but I did feel a little like she struggled to connect with the audience. Opening with Better Boyfriend, Ashley did interact well with her band and the first few rows of the audience but seemed to struggle to reach further back. This is, however, possibly due to the stage arrangement being right next to the entrance, meaning a lot of people would be walking past anyway. The odd fire exit arrangement didn't seem to help her either, O2 staff frequently moving people on if they couldn't fit in to the little area that had been sectioned off around the stage or in the area further back where it seemed most people didn't want to stand. Even besides this you could tell that Ashley still delivered a strong set, it would be interesting to know what other people in the audience thought.

When Lori McKenna was first announced as a pop-up artist for this year's festival I knew I had to go and see her play live. Merging some of her tracks that had been recorded by other artists with some of her own songs Lori was certainly popular amongst the substantial audience gathered around the Big Entrance Stage. She actually seemed to be stronger live than she is on her studio recordings (even though her sound cut out at one point!) Delivering an incredibly impressive version of Little Big Town's hit and CMA Song and Single Of The Year Girl Crush, Lori had the audience singing along and seemed to love every minute of her whole set.

As a huge fan of Charlie Worsham I was incredibly excited to be able to see him live yesterday. Taking to the Town Square Stage at 3:45 for his second ever UK show Charlie was greeted by a rousing applause from the audience as he launched into his set. I was thrilled to be able to hear How I Learned To Pray live as part of Charlie's set. It is an absolutely gorgeous track on the album anyway and hearing it performed with just Charlie and his guitar was a real goose-bump moment as Charlie poured emotion into his vocal, it just proved Charlie's talent in my opinion. Performing tracks from his debut album such as Trouble Is and Love Don't Die Easy alongside newer tracks such as Lawn Chair Don't Care Charlie took the audience with smoothly with him throughout each of the tracks. Charlie did forget the words to a few of the tracks but that simply seemed to make the audience smile and endear him to them further. Without a doubt Charlie delivered an incredibly impressive set, he is a definitely an amazingly talented artist that deserves to go far. I certainly hope we get to see him come back for his own tour very soon!

My day at C2C 2016 finished with a set from Emma Stevens (and an interview but more on that in a separate post!). Opening with the incredibly catchy So Stop The World, Emma was supported by a full band, the only unfortunate point of that being that it felt like the drum kit was set up a little too loud. Besides that, Emma still gave a strong performance, the emotive Sunflower being one of the strongest moments. On her own on the stage for that track, Emma explained the story behind it and it's importance to her and you could tell that the audience were really drawn in through her performance.

It was, without a doubt, a day full of talent. All the artists I saw delivered strong performances and whilst it is incredibly hard to pick my favourite set between Charlie Worsham and American Young I think I would have to give it to American Young (with Charlie an incredibly close second!). If you get the opportunity to, make sure you catch Charlie as part of Frankie Ballard's short European tour and American Young as part of Sasha McVeigh's short European tour. 

Credit to Dragon Photography for the photos!