We managed to get hold of floor tickets for the Saturday session as we were desperate to see the headline act. It’s not overstating things to say that Tim McGraw is my absolute all-time favourite country singer; I’ve wanted to see him live for literally years. C2C was his first concert appearance in the UK, so it was definitely too good an opportunity to miss.
The acts were introduced by BBC Radio 2’s resident expert on all things Americana, Bob Harris. Listen out for festival highlights on his radio show over the next couple of weeks.
Kristian Bush of Sugarland kicked off proceedings. Bush is currently working on a solo project and C2C was a chance to debut the new set. I really enjoyed his songs, particularly Love or Money, and his energy and enthusiasm in the face of playing to a less than full house. Shame on those folk who missed him and the other support acts. I would definitely pay good money to see Kristian Bush again or at the very least use some iTunes credit to download Love or Money.
Next up on stage was four-piece group Little Big Town, who turned out to be the dark horse of the day. I wasn’t familiar with their music before C2C but have since gone out and bought a copy of their latest album Tornado. Little Big Town certainly know how to work a crowd; they had us up dancing and singing along in no time flat. Without doubt, the highlight of the set was their country take on Lady Gaga’s Born This Way.
Vince Gill is unapologetically old-school. He managed to calm things down again (in a good way) after we got all in a lather over Little Big Town. I enjoyed his ballads but have to admit that the guitar slinging was less my cup of tea. Nevertheless, Gill is obviously a man of great talent who is both charming and down to earth to boot.
Tipping a Stetson hat to the venue location, Tim McGraw came on stage to the sounds of London Calling by The Clash. A genius move that set the tone for the next hour and a half. He provided us with a good mix of old stuff and songs from his most recent album Two Lanes of Freedom. It’s hard to pick set highlights but if pushed I would have to name check Something Like That, Just to See You Smile, Live Like You Were Dying, Where the Green Grass Grows, and Mexicoma. Oh, and every other song that he sang. Finally seeing Tim McGraw live and loud was everything I had hoped it would be and so much more. A week later and I’m still buzzing…
Acts playing the Sunday session included Brantley Gilbert, LeAnn Rimes and Darius Rucker. American Idol winner Carrie Underwood was the headline. In addition, up and coming talent featured on pop-up stages and the Town Square provided merchandising opportunities on both days of the festival.
Advance tickets have already gone on sale for C2C 2014. Let’s hope the promoters continue to build on the event year by year and word gets out stateside of a very warm welcome for any country act who decides to venture across the pond.
To paraphrase the legend that is Tim McGraw: we like it, we love it, we want some more of it!