REVIEW: Hunter Hayes – Live At C2C 2017, London

Hunter Hayes’ show at C2C was one that really intrigued me pre-festival. I’d seen Hunter numerous times performing in very compact, intimate venues full of loud, enthusiastic fans, but this was a whole different kettle of fish. At the O2, Hunter would be performing to a crowd of 20,000, many of whom I would imagine were not massively familiar with his repertoire. It was also interesting to see a line-up that consisted of Dan + Shay and Hunter alongside Reba McEntire – 2 totally different ends of the country spectrum and I feared this might split the crowd.

I’m a huge advocate of Hunter’s music and sheer talent and have been from the very early stages of his career, but I must admit that some of Hunter’s live performances can be a little bit shaky. Hunter has recently had some vocal training so I guess this is something he’s aware of. He kicked off his C2C show with the incredibly high-energy hit single ‘I Want Crazy’, followed by his very first single ‘Storm Warning’. Although you can’t fault Hunter’s passion and enthusiasm, I think Hunter would probably admit himself that these performances didn’t showcase his vocals too well. Judging by the highlights video he uploaded to Facebook earlier this week, he was clearly apprehensive and I’m sure we can just put it down to nerves.

As he settled into the show with ‘Tattoo’ and ‘Somebody’s Heartbreak’, he massively improved and everyone could see what a buzz he was getting from being on that stage. ‘Somebody’s Heartbreak’ in particular was a huge highlight as he brought out his pal Charlie Worsham. Charlie needs no introduction and has become a massive C2C favourite in recent years, and it was fantastic to see him on that main stage (where he belongs!).

The stand-out moment in Hunter’s set was his performance of a new song, ‘Tell Me’. The instrumentation was stripped right back to simply a piano, taking the tempo down for a few minutes and giving Hunter a real opportunity to shine. You could have heard a pin drop from start to finish, and he showed everybody exactly why he’s become the star that he is. This was a stunning performance vocally; credit to him in such a vulnerable environment. At such a young age, Hunter has got a very mature head on his shoulders and it’s reflected in his song writing. There aren’t many who can do it better.

Then, Hunter re-ignited the flame and brought the party back with ‘Light Me Up’, with the screaming electric guitars at the forefront giving the O2 another injection of energy. Hunter’s new single ‘Yesterday’s Song’ was a joy to hear live and fits in to his infectious catalogue seamlessly whilst still showing a progression in his artistry. But of course, he couldn’t leave the stage without a performance of fans favourite ‘Wanted’, provoking a wild reaction from his adoring admirers scattered around the O2.

This was a show that went from strength to strength and the audience really seemed to warm to Hunter. He’s got a lovely innocence and humbleness about him that people instantly connect with. He’s a self-confessed “music geek” and “lives every moment waiting to get on stage”; a down-to-earth, incredibly respectful and appreciative artist who relished every second he had on that stage. Many will have gone to the O2 unaware of Hunter’s music, and thousands will have come away as new Hunter fans. Job done, Hunter.

Dan Wharton (@LifeInASong_Dan)

Set List:
I Want Crazy
Storm Warning
Tattoo
Somebody’s Heartbreak (with Charlie Worsham)
Amen
Tell Me
Light Me Up
Yesterday’s Song
Wanted