GIG REVIEW: Maren Morris – GIRL World Tour, Royal Albert Hall

The meteoric rise of Maren Morris was epitomised by her recent headline show at the historic Royal Albert Hall. She described it as a “bucket list moment” for her; who would have expected that just a few years ago when she played on the Town Square stage at C2C? The UK fans have welcomed her with open arms ever since that day, and with the help of ‘My Church’ and mainstream hit ‘The Middle’, she’s built a really solid fan base here that only looks to be getting stronger each year. I for one was very excited to hear the new material from her ‘GIRL’ album (a step up from her first album in my opinion), and it provided for a top quality, eclectic night of live music in one of the world’s most beautiful venues.

RaeLynn opened the show, as she has done on select dates in the states. Maren has made a point of having female opening acts such as Cassadee Pope, Kassi Ashton and RaeLynn, using her position to provide other immense talents with a great live platform. RaeLynn has grabbed her opportunity on the UK leg, engaging with Maren’s fans all over the nation. A bubbly character that’s difficult not to like, she’s got a great, colourful stage presence and a bunch of really catchy singalong-triggering songs. Her latest single ‘Rowdy’ was a really fun moment, and ‘Love Triangle’ is one of the most touching pieces of songwriting from the last few years. This is surely just the beginning of a really healthy relationship between RaeLynn and the UK – we look forward to having her back!

As Maren rose from beneath the stage to kick off her set with ‘GIRL’, the crowd went wild, and it was clear that a lot of thought had gone into the staging and general production of the show. Dramatic entrances, stunning lighting and a defiant ‘Girl Power’ message throughout. As she moved into ‘The Feels’, one of my favourites from the new album, one aspect that struck me was the quality of her vocal delivery, something which was lacking at her previous C2C main stage appearance. It seems like something she’s massively worked on; she was flawless from start to finish.

The 22-song set consisted of most of the new album, as well as a whole lot of fan favourites from the ‘Hero’ album, including the gorgeous ‘I Could Use A Love Song’ (always a highlight at Maren shows) and of course the infectious ’80’s Mercedes’ and ‘Rich’. Another high point was ‘Once’, which gave her the opportunity to showcase her aforementioned vocal prowess and provided one of the most attention-grabbing, dramatic moments in the show.

The new album has given Maren so much more depth and much more to say, and the material has elevated her live show to a whole new level. ‘Common’ (which featured Brandi Carlile on the recording) is a wonderful example of how to transcend genres whilst still maintaining the lyrical depth, whilst ‘A Song For Everything’ is modern day country music at its finest. ‘The Bones’ was a big highlight too, written with Laura Veltz; one of the best songs of the year so far.

She’s dabbled with a couple of collaborations in the time between the first and second albums, one of which was ‘Seeing Blind’ with One Direction’s Niall Horan. Much to the surprise of the London fans, she welcomed Niall onto the stage as a special guest for a great performance of the country-pop-infused foot-tapper. I suspect there were quite a few 1D fangirls in the crowd who got their money’s worth that night! Unfortunately it was a step too far to hope for Zedd on ‘The Middle’, but that didn’t take away from the energy and power the song provided to close the show.

All in all, a thoroughly entertaining night of music that made a statement for Maren Morris – there’s no stopping her international rise, and she’s shining a light for all the incredible female talents in the genre right now to follow.

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan