Country to Country 2018 Review Day 3 – Emmylou Harris, Margo Price, Midland, Lindsay Ell, Russell Dickerson & Ryan Hurd
I’ll be the first to admit that we (we being my wife Denise and I) didn’t make the most of Day 3. After a hectic Saturday and a late night Friday too, we were absolutely shattered, and me managing just 2 hours sleep the previous night didn’t help. Still, after a lunch at Wagamama, where we got chatting to a lovely guy about C2C experiences, we made our way to the All Bar One stage, to see Ryan Hurd again. It was quite crowded up there but we were stood not too far from the stage and with a good view. He did a couple of full band songs but then went acoustic on his own, which suited the venue well and gave us the opportunity to see a different side to Ryan. It was just as good as Saturday’s rock sound and I appreciated that he didn’t reel off the same stories as some are guilty of doing. We got to meet him afterwards and he seemed really humbled by the praise we were all heaping on him. He has no CD at the moment which is why I couldn’t find it. But in his words, they are going to market the *%$# out of it when it’s done, so I expect to see it make waves once released.
After that, it was straight into the arena as we took our seats back in block 409. First up were Midland, whose album I had listened to and really enjoyed. Live on this afternoon it just didn’t click for me though. I’m not sure if it was just because I was massively overtired or what, but as much as I like them, I didn’t love them, as I thought I was going to. I can’t put my finger on it, but I got a vague feeling of it being a tiny bit spoofy, if that makes sense. I do think my tired state was at play and they are a band who I’d definitely like to give another chance. Maybe I’ll try to get a ticket to their autumn tour.
Lindsey Ell was the first act to grace the spotlight stage and she is someone I heard a lot about and had seen some of her brilliant guitar skills in YouTube videos I’d browsed. There that night in the arena, it just didn’t seem that great. For starters one of her guitarists wasn’t plugged into the sound system, so whilst we could just about hear him, only because we were sat back where the stage is. Lindsey’s voice seems a little weak too, and I was expecting one full of power and emotion, and I didn’t get that. Her guitar playing was good, but I’ve seen her do far better. I was left feeling a little underwhelmed to be honest.
I was beginning to think that my lack of sleep was going to ruin this whole evening, that was until Margo Price took to the main stage. Well, I had a slight worry as when she said Hello London I could hardly hear it, and so I worried that audio problems might be back in play. Thankfully when she started to sing it was crystal clear, and I could hear those wonderful lyrics and her beautiful voice. I’d been listening to All America Made for a couple of months, on heavy rotation, and was already a signed up member of the Margo Price fan club, but seeing her perform live was on another level.
I found Margo utterly mesmerising to watch, and listen to, as she belted out songs, that for the most part, I recognised. She is a throwback to the classic country sounds that the genre was built on, but with her own cool and quirky edge that makes her very unique in an ever-growing industry. As if just singing her own songs wasn’t enough, and it was, she brought out Lukas Nelson for a wonderful duet, twice. If ever two voices, and personalities, blended together perfectly, it’s these two. I’d pay all the money to see these two tour together. We were also treated to a spectacular dual drumming solo as Margo sat at the second drum set, that I hadn’t noticed until this point, and kept up with the band drummer beat for beat as they thrashed out a hypnotic instrumental. Margo was the only act I saw all weekend who had a costume change, from country and western jumpsuit to sparkling dress, just to make sure her set had absolutely everything.
What I am about to say will surprise anyone who knows me, but if I really had to rate the performances of the weekend I’d actually put Margo Price at the very top. YES, even above the exalted, in my mind, Kacey Musgraves. I had seen Kacey 4 or 5 times before Country to Country 2018, but I wasn’t quite prepared for just how incredible Margo is live. I came back and ordered both her albums on CD (digital does not suffice), as well as her buddy Lukas Melson’s CD too. I get goosebumps just thinking about that 60 minutes of pure country excellence I was honoured to be in attendance for.
Poor old Russell Dickerson, he had the unenviable job of following the mighty Margo Price. He did a decent job though, with a strong voice and a likeable and confident personality. At the time I didn’t think it resonated with me that much, but since last weekend, his song Yours has been going around in my head, so job well done Russell. Then it was time for country music royalty Emmylou Harris, and while I absolutely knew I was in the presence of a legend, my tiredness had become too much, and we left halfway through her set. This is no reflection on Emmylou who played and sang sublimely, it’s just that she has a very relaxing sound, and with limited sleep for 3 days she was just a little too relaxing. I really wish I could have stayed longer but I was exhausted, sorry Emmylou. This also meant we missed the night’s headline act Little Big Town, but their music has never been for me and seeing them play at Country to Country in 2016 did little to change my mind.
It might seem like Sunday wasn’t a great day but it was, believe you me. It was worth every penny and more just to see Margo Price. Throw in half an Emmylou Harris set, a second chance to see Ryan Hurd and Midland set that has left me intrigued, and I see value and then some. I loved Country to Country 2018. it felt different to previous years, what with the different layout, but I saw so much great music and have come away with a huge list of artists to check out. I told myself, and my wife, repeatedly, that I wasn’t going to book early bird tickets for next year and I’d just wait and see what the lineup is, just in case it’s not to my taste. That lasted until 10am this morning when I did indeed book early bird tickets for Country to Country 2019. No matter who is playing I want to be there, to give everything a try, even if just once, and just be in amongst that atmosphere that isn’t replicated anywhere else, not in this country anyway. I love country music, why would I not want to be at Country to Country? See you there.
Day 2 Review
Day 1 Review