Hands up, how many of you were familiar with Margo Price before last weekend? This was certainly a wildcard choice catering for the die-hards; it was only last year that Margo Price was playing at the Slaughtered Lamb! A fairly big jump to make, performing on the main stage at The O2. How this came about, I have no idea, but it was a huge opportunity for Margo to make her mark on a mostly new audience, on the biggest platform for country music in the UK. Bob Harris has always been a big supporter, and critics who’ve attended her live shows have given her immense praise. Would she be able to replicate that on the big stage?
One thing’s for certain – none of the traditionalists in the arena on Sunday could complain about the lack of ‘proper country’ on the line-up! Out came Margo dressed in a throwback-style suit and cowboy hat, launching straight into the opening track from her latest album ‘Don’t Say It’. At first, due to the lack of familiarity, there was a sense of trepidation amongst the crowd who were, I think, just trying to get a feel for the music and it took a while to set in. The opening section of the set was rather laid back with ‘Do Right By Me’ and a track from her critically-acclaimed debut album ‘Midwest Farmer’s Daughter’, ‘Tennessee Song’ – good old country music is still alive and well!
The moment that spiced things up was the introduction of her good friend, the insanely talented Lukas Nelson. He joined Margo for a performance of ‘Learning To Lose’, which was originally recorded as a duet with Lukas’ father (whoever he is!). There’s just something about Lukas that connects with people; he was one of the stand-out acts from the festival this year and the crowd absolutely lit up when he opened his mouth. There’s an incredible resemblance between his voice and his father’s, and he more than made up for Willie’s absence!
Margo’s performance of ‘Cocaine Cowboys’ was a personal highlight for me – one of the best moments on her new album ‘All American Made’ and the bouncy, blues-influenced melody sounded even better live. And of course, the superb ‘Hurtin’ (On The Bottle)’ was another highlight, which had the increasingly appreciative crowd up on their feet dancing away. It’s such an infectious melody that you just can’t help tapping your feet to, and it cranked up the energy for the final part of the show.
She left us with a storming rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s classic ‘Proud Mary’, departing the stage with the arena on a high. I think it’s fair to say Margo left The O2 with quite a few new converts on Sunday; her style isn’t necessarily my bag but you can’t fault her vocal delivery and clever song writing technique. She falls into the same category as Andrew Combs for me – great show, but would be appreciated more in an intimate environment.
1. Don’t Say It
2. Do Right By Me
3. Tennessee Song
4. Learning to Lose (with Lukas Nelson)
5. Wild Women
6. Cocaine Cowboys
7. A Little Pain
8. Paper Cowboy
9. Hurtin’ (On the Bottle)
10. Proud Mary (Creedence Cleawater Revival cover)