2014-03-15 at 18-54-54

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“Looks like country music has found a new home.” This phrase, uttered by Dierks Bentley during his show, sums up perfectly what took place on the 15th and 16th March at The O2 Arena in London. A great success, therefore, mainly due to two factors: first, a group of artists that gave it all they had which transformed this weekend into a really special one, and second, an organisation led by Bob Harris, simply perfect in organising every event of the C2C fantastically, using that renowned British punctuality. Furthermore, a round of applause also to the crowd, extremely disciplined but at the same time really psyched, which helped make the Country to Country a true celebration, above all for young people. The most incredible thing about the event was in fact the realisation that today’s country music is primarily for young people, given the thousands of young people present at The O2 Arena. To these factors must be added the fact that the Arena, located in Greenwich and with a capacity of over 20,000, all seated inside, is the perfect location for this type of event. The weather also played an important part, incredible for London, with a temperature, much more Mediterranean than English. First act, as listed, to open this edition of the Country to Country, was Martina McBride. The singer from Sharon KS opened with “Wild Angels”, and it was immediately clear that this would be an unforgettable weekend. “Independence Day”, “Concrete Angel”, “This One For the Girls” and especially a cover of Elvis’ “Suspicious Minds” are the high points of her performance. Martina’s voice is the same as always and her concert, after about an hour, ended with a standing ovation.2014-03-15 at 20-09-51Forty minute pause and then off again: it’s time for Dierks Bentley. The singer from Arizona is experiencing a magical moment in his career, thanks to the single “I Hold On”, and here in London the people were waiting to see him. The sound is as always pretty well rock, with bass and drums beating away and the audience at The O2 Arena, composed as we have already said, mainly young, definitely appreciated songs like “Tip It On Back”, “Lot Of Leavin’ Left To Do”, “What Was I Thinkin’” and “Free And Easy (Down The Road I Go)”. Very funny also, was the little show given when a young girl from the audience was led on stage to play guitar. Finally, a tribute to Pink Floyd with a country version of “Wish You Were Here” and the cover of “Hey Brother” by Avicii, which honestly enough I liked more than the original version. His performance lasted just over an hour, a clean and powerful sound which fuelled the electrifying atmosphere. The break arrived at the right time. After the usual 40 minute break, it was up to the Dixie Chicks. the sisters Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Erwin Robison, and lead vocalist Natalie Maines (daughter of producer Lloyd Maines) are definitely one of the best female bands in the history of country music and here in London they have once again shown their class, to the point that Zac Brown himself has hailed them as “My favourite band”.2014-03-15 at 21-39-39Amazing setlist: “Cowboy Take Me Away”, “Goodbye Earl”, “Lubbock or Leave It”, “Ready To Run”, “The Long Way Around”, and of course “Sin Wagon” and “Wade Open Space” struck the 20,000 in the Arena like a wild river flood, and the wonderful voice of Natalie still manages to enchant. Rebels as like in the good old days, the three girls from Texas wanted to pay a tribute to the controversial video from Miley Cyrus by playing their own version of “Wrecking Ball”. A great concert ,considering the sad fact that for some time now the Dixie Chicks have decided not to record any new material and only meet up for special occasions. Usual pause and with a punctuality that we Italians are not accustomed to, it’s Zac Brown’s turn with his band. Bearer of a musical genre defined by Zac himself “Southern country-rock-bluegrass-reggae-jam”, the show offered by the singer/songwriter from Georgia pays a big tribute to the album “Uncaged”, both in terms of the songs played (“Jump Right In”, “Uncaged”, “Goodbye In Her Eyes” and “Island Song”) and sonority. 2014-03-15 at 23-12-04Probably, the fact of being far away from the United States led the band to adopt a more rock sound, which can also be heard in the “classics” such as (“Toes”, “Chicken Fried”, “As She’s Walking Away” and “Whiskey’s Gone”), which too, had a very southern sound. Anyway, the show is amazing and Zac takes a walk amongst the audience driving them into a frenzy. Encores now, and the band, paying further tribute to the “Uncaged” album cover, appeared on stage in glowing skeleton costumes for a final dose of rock and sweat. A wonderful day, full of good music in a perfect environment for this type of event. It was worth coming to London even just for today, but tomorrow it’s up to Chris Young, The Band Perry, Rascal Flatts and above all Brad Paisley. (Gianluca Sitta gianluca@planetcountry.it )