Where do I start with this? Darius had played at the very first Country2Country back in 2013 and has since done UK tours of his own, so we know Darius has a loyal fan base who were excited to see him again at the O2, but nobody could quite have predicted the reaction he received, including Darius himself. This was a very special C2C show that will go down in history as one of the festival’s greatest ever performances. Darius was effectively the ‘opener’ for Reba McEntire on the Saturday night, but as it turned out, it was impossible for Reba to follow him and he absolutely stole the show.
Darius kicked off the show with the anthemic ‘Lighter Up’ from his ‘Southern Style’ album which had everybody on their feet from the first note. But it wasn’t long before he started reeling off the hits, as ‘Radio’ and his latest single ‘If I Told You’ soon followed to get the O2 in the mood. Darius offered a taster of his upcoming album with a new song ‘The Last Time’ (I think that’s what it was called) which fits seamlessly into his stellar back catalogue.
The moment that changed everything was his rendition of the Garth Brooks classic ‘Friends In Low Places’, followed by ‘No Diggity’. This was where the party really started and the atmosphere was cranked up another notch. You wouldn’t think ‘No Diggity’ would get a country crowd going but as Darius said, “these are just great songs” and it absolutely worked a treat. From that moment on, Darius had us in the palm of his hand and the set list was genius. For the rest of the show, it was up-tempo hit after hit with the likes of ‘This’, ‘Homegrown Honey’ and ‘Comeback Song’ raising the roof as well as a couple of Hootie favourites, ‘Hold My Hand’ and ‘Only Wanna Be With You’.
The moment everybody was waiting for, ‘Wagon Wheel’ finally arrived, introduced with a mention for the Old Crow Medicine Show who cut the original version and have become “great friends” of Darius. The fiddle player in Darius’ band has got the greatest job in the world – as soon as he hit the intro, the arena went absolutely bonkers. Definitely one of the loudest sing-a-long moments of the whole festival and it made me emotional to stand back and witness what was happening. No words can describe the feeling of 20,000 people singing along to one of your favourite songs (that you never hear anywhere else). Priceless.
But just when we thought it was over, Darius pulled it right out of the bag once again with a scintillating cover of ‘Purple Rain’. For those of you that were there, I really don’t need to go any further. But for those of you that weren’t, this was one of the greatest moments I’ve ever experienced in a concert arena. Thousands and thousands of phone lights lit up everywhere you looked; I just stood there in amazement thinking ‘WOW’. In the words of Darius, this was “f***ing awesome”. It took much longer than most for Darius to leave the stage; he was genuinely blown away by the reaction. Take a look on YouTube for the footage, it’ll do it much more justice than I can.
There was an incredible buzz after the show. I felt so sorry for Reba having to follow that. We all have a moan about the C2C ticket prices from time to time, but you can’t put a price on what he delivered. Take a bow, Darius, take a bow.
Dan Wharton (@LifeInASong_Dan)
Southern State Of Mind
If I Told You
The Last Time
It Won’t Be Like This For Long
Friends In Low Places
Hold My Hand
Only Wanna Be With You
Come Back Song