REVIEW: Brad Paisley (C2C 2017, London)

Brad Paisley closed proceedings at C2C 2014. That performance has gone down in C2C folklore as one of the best ever and I have very fond memories of singing part of ‘The Mona Lisa’ on the tube station immediately after the show. Brad himself became aware of this and expressed publically that this was one venue that he was desperate to perform at again.

In the recent past we had the announcement of a Paisley tour that was swiftly and somewhat mysteriously cancelled for “scheduling reasons” after tickets (and hotel rooms) had been booked. The announcement that Brad was headlining the opening day of this year’s festival was therefore received very enthusiastically by his legion of fans, and we were massively anticipating this performance.

He didn’t disappoint. Brad never disappoints. The quality and diversity of his back catalogue ensures that there will be something for everyone. His recent output has tended to drift away from the classic country sounds that we associate with him but he has a formidable batch of tunes that are ideal for an arena show. If your first three songs are ‘Crushin’ It’, ‘American Saturday Night’ and ‘Water’ you can be sure that you will be getting the crowd on their feet dancing and singing along.  We were here for a party and Brad Paisley is the perfect host. His ‘slowies’ are also capable of bringing the house down. ‘Perfect Storm’ and our personal anthem ‘This Is Country Music’ sounded awesome with the full band and adoring fan base.

Special mention to the lighting and video guys too. They helped produce a spectacular setting for Brad to shine.

Chris Young, who had just closed his own stellar set immediately before Brad, returned to perform ‘I’m Still A Guy’ and Chase Bryant helped out with ‘Ticks’ before Brad made his customary walk to the stage at the back of the arena to perform 3 songs including a new one from his forthcoming album.

‘Ashamed Of Your Selfie’ was typical tongue-in-cheek Brad Paisley including the awesome line “Grandmothers in an open casket, you’re in a suit and shades. You take your iPhone out and you snap it #sadday…you ought to be ashamed”. This is a song that will be smashing US country radio and we will all be singing “why you gonna go and tweet it when you should just delete it”.

‘Southern Comfort Zone’ has to be one of Brad’s classic songs and it’s huge reception was everything that he deserved. There was one final guest spot to fill but this time by way of a video duet with Carrie Underwood, who sang ‘Remind Me’. The pretext was a spoof live call where Carrie is disturbed before addressing the London crowd. All pre-recorded of course and I expect the greeting for Dublin and Glasgow was recorded at the same time. Despite that, it all seemed to work very smoothly and added to the spectacle.

What didn’t seem to work too smoothly were Brad’s guitars. We all know that he changes these regularly mid-show anyway but there were obvious issues that resulted in him using 3 guitars on one song and throwing one to the ground at one point. It was the closest that Brad gets to throwing a hissy fit and I suspect the guitar technician was addressed post-show.

The main set closed with ‘Today’ before the expected encore of ‘The Mona Lisa’ and ‘Alcohol’. We danced, we sang and we clapped along. It was a set that we expected but maybe that was the reason why this occasion didn’t quite hit the heights of the 2015 show. I spoke to many who were at the festival for the duration and when talking about their highlights, the responses usually consisted of plaudits for Darius, Zac and Chris.

I don’t suppose that ‘The Mona Lisa’ was being sung on the tube this year but that’s not Brad’s fault. Maybe we are getting a little blasé about these mega country artists coming across to play for us. Maybe we are beginning to expect too much. He delivered hugely and greatly entertained.

Brad Paisley. Take a bow sir. You were awesome.

Graham Wharton (@goodfella150)

Set List:
1 Crushin’ It
2 American Saturday Night
3 Water
4 Perfect Storm
5 Country Nation
6 This Is Country Music
7 I’m Still A Guy (with Chris Young)
8 She’s Everything
9 Online
10 Ticks (with Chase Bryant)
11 Celebrity
12 Old Alabama
13 Then
14 Ashamed Of Your Selfie
15 Southern Comfort Zone
16 I’m Gonna Miss Her
17 Remind Me (with Carrie Underwood)
18 We Danced
19 Whiskey Lullaby
20 River Bank
21 Mud On The Tires
22 Today

Encore

23 The Mona Lisa
24 Alcohol