C2C 2016: Little Big Town

P1010020C2C is to country music what the Motor Show was to car freaks. You go to one large venue and experience everything at once. You walk from stand to stand to view your favourites.

Taking the analogy further how would you catalogue Little Big Town? Certainly within the Mercedes or BMW class. They have been singing together for 18 years but weren’t able to undertake their first headlining tour until 2009. They actually opened for Carrie Underwood on her ‘Carnival Road Tour’ in 2008. Although Carrie was top of bill here at C2C it all felt very different.

These days Little Big Town are very much ‘A-List’ artists. They seem to own most of the awards ceremonies and ‘Girl Crush’ was the anthem of 2015.

They are no strangers to C2C. They performed 4 years ago when a lot of country music fans were thinking that they “should have gone to that country weekender in London”.

They also opened proceedings last year when appearing at the Brooklyn Bowl for the C2C launch party.

Much was expected of the current vocal group of the year and they didn’t disappoint. It’s hard to describe just how well the four members of the band sing both individually and collectively. The harmonies are majestic but that would be under-estimating the way that they each bring their magic to designated songs.

The opener was Dolly’s ‘Jolene’. This was totally acapella and grabbed everybody’s attention from the outset. You could hear a pin drop.

We were then treated to their greatest hits that would have easily have sufficed for any headlining act let alone the penultimate performers.

A band that has been performing for as long as Little Big Town will draw upon songs that have now become standards even though they were reasonably modest hits when they were released. ‘Little White Church’ was a single release from the band’s ‘The Reason Why’ album in 2010. It sounded fresh here performed live and set the tone for a very fine set.

‘Pontoon’ needed no introduction. The opening bars are so recognisable and the crowd erupted. It’s hard to believe that this song was released almost 4 years ago.

The acapella harmonies were back for the introduction of ‘Front Porch Thing’ before Phillip and Jimi encouraged the crowd to clap along.

‘Faster Gun’, an album track from the bands ‘Pain Killer’ album was up next. Certainly one of the band’s less recognised songs but the heavy bass beat sounded awesome in the arena.

The mid tempo reggae vibes of ‘Pain Killer’ had the packed crowd back on their feet before Phillip took lead on ‘Bring It On Home’, another of their back catalogue that stands the test of time superbly. The audience reacted with the phone flash lights. It was an absolute magic moment and one to treasure from this year’s festival.

It’s worth the admission price to hear the harmonies that the band produce on this song. A major high point of their set.

Kimberly then took centre stage for ‘Sober’. Does it really get any better than this? Wait, hang on a minute, it probably does. ‘Tumble And Fall’ was up next, another killer track from the ‘Pain Killer’ album.

The way they structure their live sets shouldn’t be under estimated. I guess when you have this many hits to choose from, it helps, but it never seems as though you hit a low spot.

‘Tornado’, ‘Stay All Night’ and ‘Save Your Sin’ kept the audience on their toes the latter being delivered with a very rocky feel.

They always cover Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’, and it was included here before the familiar drum beats led us to a mass sing-a-long with ‘Day Drinking’. Another of LBT’s anthems. And another standing ovation.

The song of 2015 was hotly anticipated. The one song that Little Big Town will be associated with for years to come will be ‘Girl Crush’ and the O2 crowd were very pleased to hear them perform it to say the least. Totally faultless as ever.

They finished the set with ‘Boondocks’ and left an audience wanting more. Much more.

It’s been a long road for the band to reach these heights but for sheer musical and vocal talent they are very much arena headliners in waiting.

I doubt if many in this audience would begrudge them that.

Setlist:

Jolene
Little White Church
Pontoon
Front Porch Thing
Faster Gun
Pain Killer
Bring It On Home
Sober
Tumble And Fall
Tornado
Stay All Night
Save Your Sin
The Chain
Day Drinkin’
Girl Crush
Boondocks