Mark, Jess and Cam delighted their adoring fans at the O2 on C2C Sunday, gaining thousands more in the process. Praised as one of the highlights of the whole weekend by many, there’s just something about these guys that people connect with. A few years down the line, we could be looking at C2C headliners if their growth continues at the current speed. However, Monday night after C2C was on another level. Omeara is a tiny venue just south of the river, holding probably no more than 200 people. It was such a privilege to see these guys do their thing in a setting which was quite clearly more in their comfort zone; they loosened up, relaxed and gave us a 2 hour show of pure Midland-ness!
Big Machine label-mate Danielle Bradbery opened the show. Man, that girl can sing! I’ve always enjoyed Danielle’s music, but you really have to see her live to appreciate her talent and sheer quality. Her vocal is absolutely flawless and totally effortless, and the crowd really engaged with her warm personality. There were obviously quite a few Danielle fans in the house too, as there was a chorus of people singing their hearts out to every song, even the album cuts! She’s already a hugely accomplished live performer at the age of just 21 (hard to believe!); personal highlights included the emotional ‘Human Diary’, ‘Sway’ and a return to her roots with ‘Heart Of Dixie’.
Soon after, the Midland boys took the stage with their usual swagger, bravado and coolness, dressed in their signature funky rhinestone suits. They kicked off the set with ‘Check Cashin’ Country’, and suddenly Omeara turned into a honky-tonk and the audience were in party mode. You would have thought the four days previous would be taking their toll, but there’s no stopping us country music fans! They reeled of a string of favourites from their stunning debut album ‘On The Rocks’, including ‘This Old Heart’, ‘At Least You Cried’ and ‘Burn Out’, all of which sound like absolute classics and country standards already. They had the crowd in the palm of their hand from the moment they stepped on stage; people knew every word to every song and it was clear they were enjoying it just as much as we were.
It really did feel like a honky-tonk set at times with renditions of classics like ‘Jack and Diane’, ‘Dust On The Bottle’ and ‘Dixieland Delight’. There’s been some debate about the band’s authenticity but for me, good music is good music and this was pure country music at its core. It’s also a testament to the quality of their own material that they can seamlessly throw in the likes of ‘Lonely For You Only’ and ‘More Than A Fever’ alongside songs like ‘American Girl’ and ‘Tougher Than The Rest’.
It actually got to the point where I was thinking ‘how long are they actually going to play for?’ and was clock-watching at 10:45 worrying about my 11:30 train! I bet they would have played all night long had there not been a venue curfew, and I’m sure most of the crowd wouldn’t have minded one bit. They couldn’t leave us without a performance of ‘Drinkin’ Problem’ which got the loudest reaction of the night, before another string of classic covers – ‘Mary Jane’s Last Dance’ (Tom Petty), ‘I Shall Be Released’ (The Band) and ‘Turn The Page’ (Bob Seger).
This was one of those ‘I was there’ gigs that those in attendance might be looking back on in a few years’ time as a huge privilege. With Mr Borchetta at the back of the room, the pressure was on to impress, and they delivered in style.
- Check Cashin’ Country
- This Old Heart
- At Least You Cried
- Burn Out
- Electric Rodeo
- Gator Boys/Jack and Diane (John Mellencamp cover) /Dust on the Bottle (David Lee Murphy cover)
- Dixieland Delight (Alabama cover)
- American Girl (Tom Petty cover)
- Tougher Than the Rest (Bruce Springsteen cover)
- 14 Gears
- Lonely For You Only
- More Than a Fever
- Altitude Adjustment
- Saturday Night
- Make a Little
- Drinkin’ Problem
- All is Forgiven
- Mary Jane’s Last Dance (Tom Petty cover)
- I Shall Be Released (The Band cover)
- Turn the Page (Bob Seger cover)