REVIEW: Miranda Lambert – Live At The Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham

Credit: Dee D James

How awesome has it been to have the current queen of country back on our shores? Judging by the reaction on social media, it seems many were slightly underwhelmed by Miranda’s performance at Country2Country, citing nerves and a general lack of confidence performing to a whole new audience. She came back last week with a point to prove, and boy did she do just that. I was at the Barclaycard Arena for her ‘Burrminghum’ debut (she got the pronunciation spot on!), and this was the Miranda everybody loves; full of sass, power and superb stage presence.

She took the stage with her 2012 hit ‘Fastest Girl In Town’, a killer start to the set with the soaring electric guitars and the song’s attention-grabbing rocky edge. Vocals on point, backed by her truly awesome band and Gwen Sebastian on backing vocals, she had the crowd on their feet right from the off. What pursued was a show exposing Miranda’s one of a kind versatility, full of fan favourites from all across her stellar career and a selection of tracks from her ACM Album of the Year, ‘The Weight Of These Wings’

‘Highway Vagabond’ has such a cool groove and has clearly struck a chord with her adoring fan base who knew every word. The beauty of her latest album is that it has its fun moments, it has its deep, emotional moments, with real substance and immense song writing throughout. It has all the ingredients for a captivating live show, and it’s a shame we didn’t hear more of this stunning collection. The aforementioned sass was well and truly on show with ‘We Should Be Friends’ and ‘Ugly Lights’, and it was “time to get rowdy” with ‘Pink Sunglasses’. A real love-or-hate track, it’s really captured the imagination of Miranda’s fan base and there were literally hundreds of pink sunglasses on show that night!

Personal highlights were of course the spine-tingling ballads. Her performance of ‘The House That Built Me’ stunned the crowd into silence throughout. You won’t find many better country songs in the last decade; simply gorgeous. ‘Over You’ was another moment of sheer brilliance, with Miranda showing off her powerhouse vocals, living every single moment of the song. Admittedly, I’m not a fan of all Miranda’s material, but when she gets it right, she absolutely smashes it out of the park. These are two prime examples.

It’s funny how you’re reminded of the scale of an artist’s stardom when you watch a live show. It was hit after hit after hit as she stormed through the likes of ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’, ‘Automatic’ and ‘Baggage Claim’. Miranda’s loyal fans were also delighted to hear some material from the early years – ‘Kerosene’ was part of the heavy opening to the show, and we were also treated to ‘Gunpowder and Lead’ and ‘White Liar’ towards the end of the set.

Gwen Sebastian’s performance is also very deserving of a mention. Soon after Miranda introduced her band, she let Gwen take centre stage to perform her brand new single ‘Cadillac’, which is well worth checking out! It was very warmly received

As Miranda left the stage, there was only one thing on everybody’s minds. Our wish was granted as she returned for a performance of ‘Tin Man’, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. My song of 2016 by an absolute country mile, and it’s even better live. No backing – just Miranda standing vulnerable in the spotlight. This was followed by a super rendition of U2’s ‘I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’, which brought Miranda to tears hearing her adoring Birmingham fans singing so loudly. A fitting end to a rollercoaster of emotions.

The one negative for me was the sight of empty seats scattered around the back of the (half) arena. Whether it’ll put her off in future, only time will tell, but thank you Miranda for giving us Brummies a night we won’t forget!

Dan Wharton (@LifeInASong_Dan)