Do you know what I miss most about living in the U.S? The open road and country radio. There was nothing like two lanes and a little bit of feel good Zac Brown Band, some sincere Blake Shelton or the incomparable Dolly Parton singing the Tennessee Homesick Blues. However, there has always been one above the others to me, Tim McGraw. His Tim McGraw and the Dancehall Doctors album is in my all time top 10. His voice has always given me goosebumps. How and why I never saw him live in the U.S. is something I cannot comprehend, surely I would’ve had many chances, but maybe it was a case of taking what you had for granted. Glaringly obvious when I moved to the UK. We don’t have country music here. End of. Yet, there are a lot of country music fans. For the first time ever, the O2 arena hosted a 2 day country music festival this weekend, and guess who was headlining the first day? Tim bloody McGraw. You better believe it I was there!
Little Big Town and Tim McGraw at Country2Country backstage photo call
It rained, of course this being London, but it did not matter as all of the festival was held indoors at the O2. There were western wear stalls, corn dogs and pop up stages featuring up and coming talent. There was beer and cowboy hats and delegations of country fans from around the UK buying CDs and tour T-shirts, and above all, there was music. All day. Saturday kicked off with Kristian Bush (of Sugarland) but I have to admit, I missed his show, but judging from the response on twitter, I really should’ve turned up earlier. Next was Little Big Town, I love them and I love them even more now, they are amazing live. Such harmonies. At one point during the show I turned to my friend and said they are kind of like country ABBA, even down to the 2 guys, 1 blond and 1 brunette combo, but even more so, because they were absolutely seamless. That’s high praise coming from me by the way, when I was younger my life used to revolve around ABBA album releases, and I think I may have found another band I can start obsessing over. When the wind machine kicked into high gear and Kimberley whipped out her sunglasses for the Grammy Award winning “Pontoon”, we were all partying and mmm…motorboatin’.
Little Big Town
The more classic country portion of the evening was by Country Hall of Fame legend Vince Gill. It was a nice mix, the old guard and the new contenders all in the same bill, a real cross selection of great music.
But the evening belonged to Tim. He was everything and more that I could’ve ever imagined. First of all he looked smokin’ hot in his black Stetson and his tight grey T-Shirt. Then he kicked into a high energy show that did not dip once in all the 1.5 hours he was on stage. When he sang “I may be a real bad boy, but baby I’m a real good man” my legs went to jelly. I looked around and saw people singing along and dancing, thinking he sure has a lot of fans in the UK. And that’s the thing. When I said at work I was going to the country music festival on the weekend, they all said, “Oh, so its going to be you and all Americans living in London”. Sure there were some expats there, trying to recapture that hometown feeling or cure homesickness, but most of the people were just like me. Country music fans living the dream, hearing some of the best music on earth live and in London.
Image Sources: Country2Country Facebook.