REVIEW: CMA Songwriters Series – Indigo @ The O2, London

LifeInASong_UK
Credit: Luke Dyson/CMA

The annual CMA Songwriters Series at the Indigo has consistently been a massive highlight of the weekend for many C2C-goers. There’s such a special vibe about the evening; a wonderful venue, great stories, incredible music and usually a brilliant camaraderie between the performers. This year was no different, and actually took it up another level for me. For 2019’s instalment, we had Jimmie Allen, Ross Copperman, Laura Veltz, Travis Denning and our lovely host, Cam. On paper, it perhaps didn’t have the ‘wow’ factor of previous years, but it turned out to be the best CMA Songwriters show to date.

Firstly, Cam was a truly superb host. One of the most genuine, down-to-earth people in the business, she was a charismatic presence throughout, and her warmth and openness was so refreshing. She puts a smile on people’s faces, not just with her undeniable talent but with her general demeanour. She opened the show with fan favourite ‘Diane’ to crank up the atmosphere which was fantastic as always, but it was her ballads that really raised eyebrows and proved why, in my opinion, she is the best female vocalist in country music. In particular, one of the new songs from her forthcoming album (it is definitely coming soon, she’s promised!), ‘Forgetting You When I’m Alone’, was the performance of the evening and stunned the room into complete silence from the first note. When she performs songs like that, along with Sam Smith’s ‘Palace’ (which she co-wrote), she is impossible to compete with.

Jimmie Allen has been a real breakout star of this year’s C2C. His appearance at the Songwriters Series made such an impact and there was an instant connection between him and the UK fans. He truly embraced the festival, the culture and the people throughout the weekend, and I’m sure it won’t be too long till we see him here again. It was his friendship with Travis Denning that completely made the show; it was almost like watching two school boys trying to get one up on each other! His music really shone too; particularly the incredible ‘Warrior’, written about the strength of his mother who keeps the family together. One moment he could be in humour mode, self-deprecating with racial stereotypes, then the next moment he could switch to the humble, deep Jimmie. He was a wonderful addition to the line-up. We even had the first ‘venturing out into the crowd’ moment during ‘Best Shot’ as he went to say hello to the balcony folks, a first for the Songwriters Series!

Ross Copperman was also a phenomenal person to have on the line-up. This guy is an absolute song writing powerhouse, having written songs for the likes of Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney, Brett Eldredge, Dierks Bentley and more. The list goes on. He gave the crowd exactly what they wanted which was hit after hit, starting with Kenny Chesney’s ‘Setting The World On Fire’, followed by ‘John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16’, ‘Woman Amen’ and ‘Get Along’, just a small selection from his mind-blowing back-catalogue. In the world of song writing, we were in the presence of royalty here – such a treat to have him involved.

Laura Veltz was probably an unfamiliar name for many when the line-up was announced, but she ended up being one of the big favourites for those in attendance. A lovely personality with a hint of sass, the audience completely fell in love with her and she looked rather astonished by the reactions she was getting. It was also the “biggest crowd” she’d ever played to, so it was clearly a special memory being made for her personally. Her performance of Dan + Shay’s ‘Speechless’ brought the house down, and she provided one of the real fun moments with Maren Morris’ ‘Rich’. Considering she’s only recognised for her song writing, she’s got an impressive voice and was certainly holding her own.

Last but not least, we had one of UMG Nashville’s newcomers, Travis Denning. Not only one of the highlights of the CMA Songwriters Series, he was one of the highlights of the whole weekend. His cheeky redneck sense of humour went down a storm, and the aforementioned banter with Jimmie Allen was just hilarious. He was even ‘iced’ by Jimmie at one point, which involves chugging a whole cup of Smirnoff all in one. How he got through the next song, I have no idea! His breakout single ‘David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs’ got one of the loudest responses of the night, and his performance of Michael Ray’s ‘Her World Or Mine’ was also a stand-out. No doubt we’ll see him back in the UK very soon – this was a hugely successful trip for Travis.

All in all, another thoroughly enjoyable night at the Indigo and one of the best memories from this year’s C2C weekend. We’re incredibly lucky to have such immense talent from Nashville making the commitment to come over here – long may it continue!

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan

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