Chris Young seems to be finding a second home here in the UK. He received a phenomenal reaction at his show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 2015, a night he said at the C2C press conference will live long in the memory. Chris appeared at Country2Country back in 2014, second on the bill, and since then his presence on music row has continued to grow rapidly, and you’d now put him almost in that ‘A-list’ of country artists. With a string of #1 hits under his belt from his ‘I’m Comin’ Over’ album, he returned to the O2 loaded with new material, and it turned out to be one of the stand-out shows of the weekend.
He kicked off the show with ‘Underdogs’ from his latest album, one of the heaviest Chris Young tracks you’ll find and such a powerful way to introduce himself to the London crowd. Although not a personal favourite of mine it’s a real attention grabber with its intense electric guitars. It wasn’t long before Chris started reeling off the hits, as ‘Getting’ You Home’ followed with its sexy melody and traditional country twang, before he took us right back to 2008 with ‘Voices’.
A highlight was his performance of ‘Sober Saturday Night’, his latest #1 hit on country radio. Despite the omission of Vince Gill on guitar, this was a stunning performance and showcased Chris Young’s immense vocal range and dynamism. One of those real ‘sit up and listen’ tracks that brought out the goose bumps and received a wild reception from the audience. Then, Chris’ cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ really cranked up the atmosphere before he slowed the pace right down for a spine-tingling rendition of Keith Whitley’s ‘When You Say Nothing At All’. I’d seen clips online of Chris covering that song but nothing compares to hearing him do it live; it was simply gorgeous.
Cassadee Pope joined Chris on stage for their smash hit duet ‘Think Of You’ – it was supposed to be a “surprise” but let’s be honest, all of us knew it was coming! But perhaps the biggest highlight of the show was Chris’ performance of ‘Tomorrow’ which lit up the O2 with phone lights and had the crowd on their feet at the end. It’s difficult to pin-point why some performances just ‘click’ and get a certain reaction and others don’t; this one really resonated with the crowd and there was almost a minute-long applause at the end. Chris seemed totally blown away by it and it’s one of the strong memories I have from the weekend.
‘I’m Comin’ Over’, of course, completed the set. A memorable show for everybody in attendance and I would imagine a very special one for Chris and the band. To come to the O2 Arena, effectively opening the show for Brad Paisley (whom I would guess many had come to see) and to completely steal the show is no mean feat. An hour or so in Chris Young’s presence and you know exactly why he has become one of Nashville’s big-hitters in recent years. A brilliant show, and I hope he’ll be back sooner rather than later.
Dan Wharton (@LifeInASong_Dan)