C2C have reached the point now where it’s difficult to keep the variation going year after year with artists making UK debuts. This year’s line-up had quite a few repeat acts, so to see Carly Pearce and Dustin Lynch opening Saturday’s show was really refreshing. It had been a long time coming for Dustin; with six number ones and three top two albums to his name, it’s bewildering that we hadn’t seen him in the UK already. This was clearly a show that Dustin had been looking forward to for a long time, and you could tell from his demeanour in the pre-show press conference that he was well up for this one.
The energy he showed in the press room carried over to his main stage set and multiplied. He went on with a resilience and an attitude that said ‘I’m gonna do my thing, whether they like me or not. So be it’, and he went down a storm. In fact, I would include him in the top three main stage sets of the weekend – he absolutely smashed it. I must admit, I’ve never considered myself to be a massive Dustin fan, but once you’ve heard his material in an arena environment, the appreciation level goes up considerably.
It’s easy to forget just how successful Dustin has been over the last few years. He wouldn’t necessarily be considered as an ‘A-List’ star in the genre, but his set list was hit after hit after hit. I found myself thinking ‘oh yeah, there’s that one too!’ with every song that went by. The rocky ‘Hell Of A Night’ kicked off the show, before the more pop-infused ‘Where It’s At’ and ‘I’d Be Jealous Too’ which got the party started at the O2. The aspect that was most noticeable was Dustin’s vocal ability; he was on point from start to finish and it was a thoroughly professional display.
There’s an argument that just doing all the hits is ‘playing it safe’ but it works a treat at C2C (see Zac Brown Band 2017). The highlight of the set was his acoustic mashup of Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ and Dustin’s first big hit, ‘Cowboys and Angels’. No lights, no band, just Dustin and a guitar, and he held the attention of the audience sublimely with a mesmerising performance. It got a huge reaction from the adoring crowd, before he kicked into the Garth classic ‘Friends In Low Places’, and from then on it was plain sailing. If you’ve got the love of the crowd and decide to throw in some Garth, you’ve pretty much nailed it.
Finishing with a couple more of his recent hits, ‘Seein’ Red’ and ‘Small Town Boy’, the crowd got on their feet to applaud what was a massively successful 45 minutes for Dustin. He stayed on stage to soak it in for a good few minutes; it was one of those C2C ‘moments’ which could be the platform for a long-lasting overseas career.
This won’t be the last we see of Dustin, and I have no doubt that he’ll already be making plans to return. One of the stand-out memories from the weekend, which seems to be a common opinion for many who were in attendance on Saturday night.
1. Hell of a Night
2. Where It’s At
3. I’d Be Jealous Too
4. Mind Reader
5. Good Girl
6. Someone Like You (Adele cover) / Cowboys & Angels
7. Friends in Low Places (Garth Brooks cover)
8. Seein’ Red
9. Small Town Boy