Just last year we bumped into Ashley McBryde wandering outside the Indigo before her first UK appearance. Most people probably didn’t know who she was; no radio hits, no major label album release and no international profile. Fast forward twelve months – there we were, sitting in the O2 Arena, waiting for Ashley McBryde to make her main stage debut. It’s an incredible story and it’s all happened so fast for one of country music’s brightest rising talents.
It was great to see Ashley with her full band this time, too. We all know she can absolutely nail it acoustically, but it was refreshing to hear the full sound from the recorded material, particularly in such a huge arena. She kicked off the show with ‘Livin’ Next To Leroy’ followed by the Springsteen-esque ‘El Dorado’ which was one of the highlights of the set. Packed full of killer electric guitars, it’s a real attention-grabber with a really cool, rock-infused groove.
She slowed down the tempo for ‘The Jacket’, which I’d never heard her perform live and it’s one of the strongest tracks on her ‘Girl Going Nowhere’ album. There’s an atmospheric feel about the track and I love the delicate melody. The O2 crowd were totally gripped. Needless to say, Ashley’s vocals were utterly flawless throughout the show; there aren’t many better vocalists who can control their pitch with such ease, whether it be in a 200 capacity venue or a 20,000 capacity venue.
She cranked up the energy with ‘American Scandal’ which has become a huge fan favourite and serves as the big anthem in her set, followed by the hilarious ‘Fat And Famous’, about being invited to play at her high school reunion in front of her old foes! This one was actually on her ‘Jalopies & Expensive Guitars’ album but the demand from the UK fans means she just can’t leave it out of her set lists!
Next up was ‘Girl Goin’ Nowhere’, the song I would imagine most of us fell in love with Ashley over. No exaggeration – easily in the top three moments from this year’s C2C. Without having to be asked, the audience lit up their phone lights as Ashley took centre stage with just her guitar and no backing. It really was an incredible spectacle. The line “I hear the crowd” provoked a massive cheer, but until then you could have heard a pin drop. If you kept the tears at bay during that performance, you’re made of steel!
She then gave us a taste of the next project with her rocky new song ‘Rattlesnake Preacher’, before returning to the ‘Girl Going Nowhere’ album for performances of ‘Home Sweet Highway’, ‘Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega’ and ‘Tired Of Being Happy’ to close the show. I’m guessing ‘Radioland’ might have originally been the song to close the show as she left the stage quite abruptly after ‘Tired Of Being Happy’, but in all honesty it really didn’t matter. A standing ovation all round for Ashley was a fitting end to one hell of a show; something special is happening here and this is just the beginning.
1. Livin’ Next to Leroy
2. El Dorado
3. The Jacket
4. American Scandal
5. Fat and Famous
6. Girl Goin’ Nowhere
7. Rattlesnake Preacher
8. Home Sweet Highway
9. A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega
10. Tired of Being Happy