Friday and Saturday evening saw me create my very own Country Festival. I had an outstanding headliner on each evening and some outstanding support too. The venues for my virtual festival were the wonderful Courtyard in Hoxton and then the O2 Shepherds Bush. The performers didn’t realise they were taking part in my two night extravaganza but they gave their all to make the event a big success. OK, so it wasn’t my very own festival but it felt like it. Two nights of country music from two of the brightest stars on the country circuit at the moment.
Friday saw me at the Courtyard in Hoxton watching Charlie Worsham. I first saw Charlie play at the CMA Songwriters Series in March and have been hooked ever since. The musicianship of this man is something to be beheld: there are times its hard to believe one man can make so much music. Worsham has paid his dues as a session musician and demo singer but is now a rapidly rising star who has toured with Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift and Kenny Rogers. Charlie Worsham was born in Mississippi and is a ridiculously talented multi instrumentalist who has a unique sound built around the acoustic instruments he learned as a boy. His humility and pleasant demeanour in the face of such ability is the reason that everyone who sees him play falls in love with this guy and wants him to do well. The love in the crowd on Friday night was tangible and real and Charlie repaid the crowd with a set of nearly two hours of incredible music from the excellent debut album ‘Rubberband’ and his new album due for release early next year which he generously gave away to a grateful audience.
The Courtyard is a superb venue. The stage is intimate and the sound excellent. The friendliness of everyone there makes for a great night and the cosy bar with its super staff, book-page decorated walls and comfy sofas make for the perfect place for drinks during, before, and after the gig.
Charlie was on the top of his game on Friday night and the excellence of his performance coupled with the very loud support from a sell-out crowd made this a high point performance of the year for me so far. In years to come country fans will brag about being one of the 200 or so packed into the Courtyard at Charlie Worsham’s headline gig in London when they sit at the O2 and watch him headline the C2C.
Support at the Courtyard was offered by English country singer Frankie Davies who sang and played beautifully to an appreciative crowd before coming back on stage later to duet with Charlie on a song they wrote together. I’m sure we will be seeing more of this excellent young singer.
Saturday took me to the O2 Shepherds Bush to see Thomas Rhett on the only London gig in his sell-out Home Team tour as he tours his sophomore album, ‘Tangled Up’. Rhett was hugely acclaimed for his performance at the C2C in March, and so it’s not a surprise that the event sold out. The chance to see one of country music’s new crop of young stars is one that is impossible to turn down. The night had a special feel for me as it was my 8 year old son’s first music gig. He loves Thomas Rhett and enjoyed every moment from the balcony with my wife as me and my eldest son squeezed into the adoring crowd on the floor.
Rhett was relaxed and at ease as he sang songs from ‘Tangled Up’, as well as songs from his debut album ‘It Goes Like This’. I was particularly pleased he played ‘Beer with Jesus’, and his masterful acoustic playing of one of the first songs he wrote brought huge applause from the sell out crowd. He also took the chance to play a few covers. Not only songs he had written like FGL’s ‘Round Here’, but also recent hits like DNCEs ‘Cake by the Ocean’, Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’, and One Direction’s ‘History’, which he sang with original writer John Ryan. He made everyone happy by singing the beautiful ‘Die a Happy Man’, which recently won Single of the Year at the CMA Awards and rounded off the night with a rousing rendition of ‘Vacation’ that left everyone with a spring in their step and a thirst to see Thomas Rhett play London again soon.
Thomas Rhett was supported on the night by his Dad Rhett Atkins who wrote so many huge country songs it’s impossible to list. He treated the crowd to a greatest hits of songs he wrote and it was easy to see where Thomas inherited his enormous talent from. What a treat to see father and son smash London together.