The people of Birmingham have had a very good week. We might have missed out on Ashley McBryde this time around, but we’ve had Keith Urban, Brett Eldredge and Brothers Osborne gracing our stages. It’s felt like forever since we had a packed gig calendar, and boy is it welcome! It was fantastic to see the Institute packed to the rafters for Brett, who provided a night of top drawer entertainment, filled with the passion and emotion that is a given at every one of his live shows.
The beginning of the set was an unexpected and intriguing choice, with a new song titled “I Feel Good,” which was a much moodier, darker track than the title suggests. It was a great platform for Brett’s new-look backing musicians, who interchanged leads with ease and showcased their superb musicianship.
Early on into the set, the reaction Brett received after “Love Someone” was truly special; a lengthy applause to which he seemed rather taken aback. This was clearly a crowd who’d badly missed their live music for the past couple of years, and it felt like a real outpouring of relief. A wonderful welcome back to the UK for a hugely grateful (albeit jet-lagged!) Brett Eldredge.
One of the highlights of the set was Brett’s performance of his #1 hit “Mean To Me,” where all the house lights were turned off, and the Birmingham crowd lit up the room. One of those songs that just never ages, and is still right up there with Brett’s finest material.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – Brett’s Sunday Drive album is a masterpiece, and it was so refreshing to hear a couple of tracks live, having familiarised ourselves with that collection. It was a shame that we couldn’t hear more; the likes of “Crowd My Mind,” “Magnolia” and the title track would all be such impactful moments in a live show. That being said, the two singles “Gabrielle” and “Good Day” were both well received and provided sing-along moments.
He did throw in his more recent releases – the laid-back, soulful “Songs About You” and anthemic “Want That Back,” before taking us to church with the gospel-tinged “Holy Water.” A clear departure from his early music, Brett is going through a period of discovery in his career where it truly feels like he’s finding his feet in terms of where he wants to be musically. Gone is the poppy country artist who produced tracks like “Somethin’ I’m Good At” – here we have a much more mature, introspective Brett Eldredge, and we’re all for it.
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Those earlier days did produce some stellar hits though, and the likes of “Don’t Ya” and “Beat Of The Music” (Brett’s encore) will always be staples in his live shows. Timeless classics that can instantly light up a room.
He might have been jet-lagged, but you wouldn’t have guessed; the response of his adoring fans clearly fired him up. At the end of the show, Brett looked like he didn’t want to leave, and lapped up the standing ovation. All in all, a terrific show from, without doubt, one of the finest vocalists in country music.