All of a sudden the lights go out in the O2 Arena. The silence is suddenly broken by the deep sound of the bass drum beat that syncs with every heartbeat of the 20,000 fans present. On the mega screen appears “Somewhere in London”, in the dim light, we see a dark figure wearing the distinctive white hat appear. Our story begins here, Friday, at the 2017 edition of the C2C, number 5 overall, which will go down in history for being the most “country” one of all the previous ones. CAM, Jennifer Nettles, Chris Young and Brad Paisley are the big names planned for Friday, and it is up to the young Californian to open the show, exactly on time ( could not be otherwise, we are in England). Cam’s music, who has just released the debut album “Untamed”, is like a painting made with light colours. Pleasant, well put together but does not leave a mark. The angelic voice and the vague new hippie look brings her into character, but the only thing that “catches fire” is the house described in the single “Burning House”, that is still doing well. When it comes to Jennifer Nettles however, things are very much different. The former singer of Sugarland is a top notch artist, who has even been noticed by people like Kenny Rogers and Bon Jovi, who wanted her as a special guest in some of their songs. Beautiful voice, great talent and character, a lot of character. It is no coincidence that she sang “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears For Fears. The reference to current politics is obvious, therefore bringing the Tycoon to the C2C. “I’ve tried every kind of music, but with a voice like mine, I could only be a country singer.” This is Chris Young’s answer, during the press conference, to who asked him what kind of music would he have sung, had he not chosen country. Young has a great personality. He inspires affection instinctively, and is certainly the funniest singer of this years C2C. The single “Think Of You”, paired with Cassadee Pope (who joined him on stage just for this song) is in the top position of all the country charts, and Chris, from the artistic point of view, has grown tremendously, as seen in the new album “I’m Comin’ Over”, which has just recently been released His voice is incredible. Warm, well set and at the same time natural, surely one of the most beautiful of the Friday evening. Chris Young’s show is an unexpected surprise and the repertoire is all country, both for choice of songs as arrangements.
Friday evening could have ended with Chris Young, and no one would have complained, but the one person everyone was waiting for impatiently, has yet to arrive. And so, we go back to the beginning of this story. A dark shape in the gloom of a huge stage, wearing his distinctive white hat. The notes to “Crushin’ It” start, and the O2 audience goes wild. Everyone loves Brad Paisley. If music is passion, technique, talent, fun and above all, heart, then Brad is its most faithful expression. A breathtaking set list. Following “Crushin’ It”, an endless list of hits; “American Saturday Night”, “Water”, “Perfect Storm”, “Country Nation”, “This Is Country Music”. When it comes to “I’m Still A Guy”, it’s time to involve Chris Young, and unleash more fun gags. I don’t think it was fully prepared. The two old friends have a perfect understanding and, having borrowed some mobile phones from some lucky people in the front rows, they took some selfies and an improbable video. As it says in the song, they are still young guys. Then, a quick change of guitar (hoping this can be heard in the headset) and off with “She’s Everything”, “Online”, “Ticks” with Chase Bryant and “Celebrity” accompanied, as usual, on the big screen, by the cartoon characters from South Park. The concert continues with “Remind Me”, sung with Carrie Underwood, in the U.S., via Facetime, “Whiskey Lullaby”, “Mud On The Tires” and “Today” that temporarily closes the show. Of course, it cannot end like this, in fact, following the ovation of the 20,000 fans of the O2 Arena, Brad returns to the stage for the encores. Firstly, “Mona Lisa” and then “Alcohol” that brings the concert to an end. In an hour and a half, the singer from Glen Dale, West Virginia, did everything. He even gave an autographed guitar to a young female fan predicting that she may one day become the new Taylor Swift, then he moved to the smaller stage, walking through the crowd around the O2 arena, to go and play in front of the audience seated towards the rear of the arena. Everybody loves Brad Paisley, as I have already said, and, following this concert we now know why. A great evening of country music, an indescribable experience, and, this is only Friday. (Gianluca Sitta)