C2C REVIEW: Kelsea Ballerini – Friday 9th March 2018, The O2

Credit: Luke Dyson

Kelsea brought some sass and girl power to the main stage on Friday evening at the O2. She’s captured the hearts of UK country fans far and wide over the last couple of years, particularly since her headline show at Under The Bridge and nationwide tour with much-loved group Lady Antebellum last year. She’s become one of country music’s biggest rising stars and her critically-acclaimed sophomore album ‘Unapologetically’ is already approaching 100,000 sales, producing the smash-hit single ‘Legends’. It was a great honour to see her at C2C for the first time and she grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

She’s just started her first headline arena tour in the states, and we could see how comfortable she has become. Kelsea has great command of a stage and the audience, and you feel like there’s a real engagement between the artist and listener. She’s the perfect example of how important personality is on a stage; you can have great songs and look great, but if you don’t have the personality it just doesn’t click. Kelsea’s got all three.

In the states she’s been playing the new album from front to back with her hits thrown in  as an encore, however due to time restrictions at C2C she mixed things up a bit. She kicked off the set with her very first #1 single, ‘Love Me Like You Mean It’ which had the Kelsea lovers on their feet from the start. But it wasn’t long before she delved into the newer material, going straight into the powerhouse, EDM-influenced track ‘Miss Me More’ which almost made the floor rumble with that killer bass in the chorus. ‘Get Over Yourself’ has become one of my personal favourites from the new album and it sounded even better live, delivered with drive and sassiness from Kelsea.

Before long, she brought out the hits again with ‘Legends’, followed by ‘Dibs’ which prompted a lot of audience participation and turned it into a sing along session. The trad-country fans probably wouldn’t have been too impressed; it was a high-energy pop show for the younger generation – you know exactly what you’re going to get. One of my highlights from her show was the performance of her brand new single ‘I Hate Love Songs’ on a stool at the front of the (extended!) stage, which is such a quirky, cleverly-written song with an almost Girl Crush-like backing. It’s already become a fan favourite, evident from the reaction of the crowd, and will no doubt be racing up the charts very soon.

Of course, she couldn’t leave us without a stellar performance of ‘Peter Pan’, complete with the dramatic visuals and flawless vocal delivery, which she maintained throughout the set. She then moved into ‘Unapologetically’ which is always one of my favourite tracks of hers to hear live, before completing the set with ‘Yeah Boy’. It was a thoroughly engaging performance from start to finish and she proved exactly why she’s hot property in the world of country music right now.

Dan Wharton

Set List:

  1. Love Me Like You Mean It
  2. Miss Me More
  3. Get Over Yourself
  4. Legends
  5. Dibs
  6. In Between
  7. I Hate Love Songs
  8. Music
  9. Peter Pan
  10. Unapologetically/Can’t Help Falling In Love
  11. Yeah Boy
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