Maren Morris was arguably THE breakthrough artist of 2016. Her huge smash hit single ‘My Church’ helped her to achieve her first Grammy and CMA awards and her star has risen hugely since she appeared on the Yamaha Music stage at C2C last year. She seemed genuinely amazed at the reception that her 3-song set received from the arena crowd back then and it was no surprise that she was invited back to appear on the main stage for the Sunday leg of this year’s festival.
She has already played to huge audiences stateside. We saw her supporting Keith Urban on his Ripcord tour in North Carolina and there is no bigger stage than the Grammys themselves, where she sang with Alicia Keys.
Her set consisted exclusively of tracks from her ‘Hero’ album which was received with such acclaim by country fans on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s an album that has already given her two huge hit singles and was nominated for 4 Grammy awards. It’s actually her fourth album but it’s unsurprising that her C2C set list gave her fans the chance to hear her perform all of the tracks live.
Backed by a very competent and tight 4-piece band, Maren took to the stage and performed ‘Sugar’ a song which also opens the album. It’s not hugely ‘country’ but it’s a certain crowd pleaser with its catchy sing a long chorus. It seemed that her early nerves were settling as she went straight into ‘Drunk Girls Don’t Cry’ and her second chart hit ‘80’s Mercedes’. Her music is up-beat, inspiring and designed to put a smile on your face and she had no difficulty getting the reaction she wanted from the O2 arena crowd.
Her in-between song audience interaction made it clear the affection that she has for the UK fans who had readily accepted her music and had followed her career development. An absolute stand-out, both in terms of the album and her live show, was ‘I Could Use A Love Song’, a great song that Maren delivered faultlessly and left no one in doubt of her song writing and vocal prowess. Many, including me, see this as the highlight of the album and if I’m being picky it might have been left later in her set instead of following ‘80’s Mercedes’.
There were many who were very familiar with the ‘Hero’ album which has sold here in healthy numbers. The tracks were all met with familiarity by the majority of the adoring crowd and given the acclaim they merited. However, let’s be honest, she has written a song that is fast becoming a country music anthem and we all were counting down the songs before the opening acoustic guitar solo led into ‘My Church’.
Darius has ‘Wagon Wheel’, Zac has ‘Chicken Friend’, Garth has ‘Friends In Low Places’, all songs that cause an arena crowd to stand as one and simply let loose. She will probably never write another song that will have such an effect on an audience. As soon as the immortal line “I’ve cussed on a Sunday, I’ve cheated and I’ve lied” hit the eardrums, the O2 transformed into a mass of happy country fans bellowing out the lyrics and generally losing any inhibitions.
“Can I get a hallelujah. Can I get an amen. Feels like the holy ghost running through ya, when I play the highway FM”…You are probably singing along as you read it! We certainly sang it last Sunday. It seemed a little odd that she didn’t finish on this song and the huge buzz of excitement it created. She finished her set with an album track ‘Second Wind’ which she mixed with Beyonce’s ‘Halo’.
She went off stage with her reputation enhanced with her UK fans and probably a few new admirers. I get the distinct impression that we will be seeing quite a lot of Maren Morris on this side of the pond in the years to come.
Drunk Girls Don’t Cry
I Could Use A love Song
How It’s Done
Just Another Song
I Wish I Was