REVIEW: Kelsea Ballerini – Live At Under The Bridge, London

Photo courtesy of Sony/MBC

This was a show I felt extremely lucky to be at. When an intimate Kelsea Ballerini show was announced at Under The Bridge, the British country brigade went loopy. The show sold out in less than an hour and many were left disappointed. This was reflected by the reaction of the audience at the show; these were the Kelsea die-hards who would have given an arm and a leg to be there. And it made for one of the most special shows in recent memory that we won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

Catherine McGrath, who seems to be supporting everybody right now, opened the show. This is the third time I’ve seen Catherine in the last couple of months, having had the pleasure of watching her with The Shires and Canaan Smith. To read my review of her performance with The Shires, click HERE. This was an identical set list, including a new track ‘Wild’ which the crowd responded really well to, ‘Cinderella’ which was written with song writing powerhouse Liz Rose, and her latest single ‘Just In Case’. It was another stellar performance, cementing her position as one of our brightest prospects. She’s gonna be a star, folks!

Kelsea came on stage soon after, kicking things off and cranking up the volume with her latest US single ‘Yeah Boy’. She had the crowd in the palm of her hand from the moment she walked on stage. I can only describe it as the loudest audience I’ve ever experienced. They knew every single word to every single song, including the album tracks AND some brand new tracks which haven’t even been released. Right from the first note of ‘Yeah Boy’, hands flew up in the air and you could almost feel the ground rumbling. You could see that Kelsea was loving it just as much as we were too; that glowing smile never left her face all night long.

She powered through a selection of high-energy fan favourites from ‘The First Time’, including ‘Square Pegs’, ‘Stilettos’ and of course, ‘Dibs’. The ‘Dibs’ performance was the moment of the night; Kelsea let the crowd sing most of the song themselves, saying “I don’t even know what to do!!” whilst trundling around the stage in complete amazement. A short clip from the performance can be found below, but you really had to be there to appreciate the volume! We were then treated to a selection of new tracks from her upcoming sophomore album, including the radio-hit-in-waiting ‘Roses’, ‘We Were Like’ as well as fan favourite ‘High School’, which Kelsea wrote years ago originally for her first album but it didn’t quite make the cut. She’s certainly maintaining her high standards by the sound of it, and there was so much country radio potential on show.

A really cool moment in the show was her little medley of country hits. Her rendition of Little Big Town’s mega-hit ‘Girl Crush’ was a joy to behold, and it morphed into Keith Urban’s ‘Blue Ain’t Your Color’ which she pulled off flawlessly. Then, returning to the familiar ‘Girl Crush’ backing, she performed another new track ‘I Hate Love Songs’ which utilises the familiar Girl Crush melody with some very clever lyrics. “I don’t know how to write love songs, I never have”, she said. It’s sure to be another firm favourite for the Kelsea fanatics.

After a spine-tingling stripped-back performance of her #1 hit ‘Peter Pan’ and her rocking UK single ‘XO’ which prompted a ‘bounce’ session (thanks to the guy behind who threw beer all over me!), she returned for an encore which included ‘The First Time’ and her first hit ‘Love Me Like You Mean It’. For ‘First Time’, she wandered into the crowd and delivered a very vulnerable and beautiful acoustic performance, surrounded by her adoring fans. Her vocal ability was unquestionable and her confidence and extremely warm personality was clear for everyone to see.

But, even more impressive than her performance was her love and devotion to the fans. After the doors had opened, she waited until everybody had gone into the venue, then went outside to meet those who unfortunately couldn’t get tickets. Such a nice touch. After the show, she stuck around to meet people by the stage, and she even came outside and had photos with everybody in the rain. When you bear in mind it was 11pm at this stage, it was so refreshing to witness and it’s something that we don’t see enough of. Fair play, Kelsea.

A super night watching an artist destined for big things, both in the US and here in the UK where I’m sure her fan base will grow rapidly. One of those ‘I was there’ shows that we might look back on with pride in years to come.

Dan Wharton (@LifeInASong_Dan)

Set List:

Yeah Boy
Looking At Stars
Square Pegs
Dibs
Stilettos
Roses
High School
Sirens
We Were Like
Girl Crush
Blue Ain’t Your Color
I Hate Love Songs
Sorry/Apologize/Let It Go
Peter Pan
XO
First Time
Love Me Like You Mean It