C2C 2016: A Personal Review

1560532_478137172326739_7080563143816626317_nIs it me or does the sun always seem to shine on the O2 when our annual jamboree of country music comes to town?

It was time to dust off the boots and head back to North Greenwich for three days of bliss.

Suddenly “our music” is in the spotlight. Radio 2 Country pops up on the car radio and the endless loop of trailers telling me about Bob’s latest interview and live festival coverage tempts me away from TalkSport.

For the first time we had 3 days of fun. It all started on Friday afternoon which I suspect was great news for those of us that couldn’t get time off work!

Well, I know it actually started on Thursday as the song writers series took over the Indigo, but sadly this took place without me.

Such is the nature of this event that no two persons recollections, emotions and reminisces will ever be the same.

We all know that Chris Stapleton absolutely blew everyone away on Sunday. We also know that the standard of performances across the board was absolutely top drawer. What else caught our eyes and ears over the extended weekend? There is far more to C2C than the headline acts and it would be great to hear your particular likes and dislikes. Here’s mine…

TOP INDIVIDUAL PERFORMERS

Chris Stapleton obviously stole the show on the main stage. His set was everything we thought it might be, and more. Goose bumps.

Andrew Combs was also very special. An artist many were totally in the dark about before this weekend. I noticed a very great number of us standing and applauding his rendition of ‘Suwanne County’. Certainly one to keep an eye on.

Richie Prynne, lead vocals with CC Smugglers. I thought we should make an effort to get a good spot for the David Nail show in the Brooklyn Bowl on Sunday lunchtime. We got there in time for the CC Smugglers set. I fortunately witnessed a performance that I will remember for a very long time. The Smugglers were awesome and Richie was a very unexpected treat. I’ve never seen a man with such charisma and such a powerful stage presence. The crowd loved him; This band is going places.

Laura Oakes. I personally think that Laura is our best female singer. She has a new single, ‘Dreamin’, out now and her performances on the pop up stages were a treat as always.

TOP GROUP PERFORMANCES

Old Dominion. The Brooklyn Bowl is a great venue. Yes, the beer is vastly overpriced and we all drink out of plastic glasses but hell, it’s only once a year. I have seen some great shows at the BB. Lady Antebellum, Striking Matches, The Shires, just to name a few. This year we were treated to another highlight. Old Dominion were truly awesome. They played practically every track from the ‘Meat and Candy’ album and they were as blown away with the event as we were.

Pauper Kings. We caught their early show at the Town Square Stage on Saturday lunchtime. Tim and the boys were as good acoustically as they sound with the full stage show. They recently opened for Brett Eldredge on his UK tour and also Carrie Underwood in Norway and Sweden. Another band that is definitely destined for success.

Case Hardin. I caught their set in the Brooklyn Bowl and having listened to their material over the last few months wanted to see them live. A very entertaining 30 minutes witnessing Pete Gow and the boys delight the early morning crowd. I loved it.

General Positives

The unique atmosphere that C2C creates. The fact that for 3 days you can have a conversation with a total stranger about an obscure country artist and that person knows exactly who you are talking about. It’s like operating in a large bubble. When we come out of the bubble, most of my work colleagues would guess that Kenny Chesney is a quarter-back in a NFL team.

Seeing a David Nail performance live. I love David Nail and had given up all hope of him ever coming to perform here. We had the massive pleasure of meeting him on the Thursday before the festival and we conducted his first ever interview in the UK. He is a very modest guy who doesn’t realise just how good he is. I personally thought that he chose the wrong songs for his Indigo show on the Saturday and wasn’t helped by an appalling sound mix which drowned out the vocals but I still love the guy.

The music. That’s ultimately why we go. The talent on display blew me away.

The 02. It’s a pain to get to. The tubes stop running too early for after show attendees. The food and drink is ridiculously overpriced but there’s nowhere better to spend your weekend. Admit it, when you see the signs for C2C hanging in the entrance area you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!

Seeing US country stars appearing before us Brits for the first time. They don’t know what to expect. You get the impression that they have been told that we do like this music of theirs but not this much. Country music isn’t popular over here is it…

Disappointments

I must mention Frankie Ballard’s set at Friday’s Brooklyn Bowl after party. Why did he totally rock this out? He didn’t perform two of his best country songs, ‘Helluva Life’ or his brilliant new single ‘It All Started With A Beer’. The set was also much shorter than Old Dominion’s the following night. I thought it was a wasted opportunity.

Missing so much. The sheer choice on offer is daunting. I missed Charlie Worsham, Phil Vassar, Bob’s ‘Under The Apple Tree Stage’ and many other artists that I would have loved to see.

People walking out of the Arena early when the headliners were on. Look, I know that we all have commitments but is it really necessary to walk out half way through the last performance? Miranda and Carrie had their fair share but I popped out to the toilet midway through Eric’s set and witnessed literally hundreds of people heading down the escalators. Bizarre.

The relatively small video screens in the main arena. There are a lot of people who were not seated in the first block. It’s a big place. Bigger screens required!

Having to wait another 12 months before we can all meet up and do it all again. The countdown clock hasn’t even started yet. Very depressing.

Roll on C2C 2017!

Writer: Graham Wharton