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C2C: Country to Country 2016 – Kacey Musgraves live review

The US star brought her Pageant Material tour to the UK for C2C.

Kacey Musgraves
Credit: Decca

The penultimate act on the main stage at C2C: Country to Country last night was Kacey Musgraves. The singer-songwriter has found a lot of success here in the UK since the release of her 2013 debut album Same Trailer, Different Park. Last year she released her second album Pageant Material, which peaked at number 11 on the UK chart giving Musgraves her highest chart position on this side of the pond. Musgraves has toured in the UK before but The O2 Arena for C2C was her biggest crowd to date.

Musgraves opened her set with Pageant Material, the title song from her latest album, and set the mood for a laidback but enjoyable set. Being a singer-songwriter who likes to focus on lyrics, Musgraves’ music rarely ups the tempo focusing on intricate acoustic riffs and melodies. That meant at times that the set felt a little samey and it did stay in the same gear for most of the time but after the emotional onslaught on Chris Stapleton earlier in the day, I was up for a shift in energy.

The set list was packed with selections from Pageant Material and Same Trailer, Different Park. One of the highlights for me was Merry Go ‘Round, which Musgraves performed solo accompanied only by her acoustic guitar. It’s the song that made me, and many of her fans, fall in love with and the simplicity of it remains its beauty. Musgraves has a knack for mixing cynicism and observational wit, with true stories from the heart and Merry Go ‘Round is one of her finest.

Two covers were included in the set. The first was a Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy, a song that has been done to death, but Musgraves’ Country twist actually made it sound pretty fresh. The second was A Spoonful of Sugar from Mary Poppins. Musgraves explained that she was a ‘Disney nerd’ and had been asked to pick a Disney song to record for a project with the iconic studio. It was an odd choice and an even odder one for the set list but it kind of worked thanks to Musgraves’ humour and energy.

Elsewhere in the set This Town explored the virtues of living in a small town where everyone knows your business, Late to the Party was a beautiful love song, and Family is Family celebrated the unique and wonderful blend of characters that family pulls together.

Things came to a close with a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots Are Made For Walking, a song that suited Musgraves to the ground. I wouldn’t be averse to hearing more uptempo numbers from her in the future and she had a rare opportunity in the set to actually let her hair down and move a bit.

Musgraves put on a winning show at C2C. It was a rare moment for a breather in the weekend and the gentler nature of the show was a change from the guitar shredding, drum-heavy, power vocals of some of the other performances. Musgraves knows what she’s good at and she sticks to it, which is to her credit because she does it incredibly well.

Set List: 1. Pageant Material 2. Biscuits 3. Silver Lining 4. This Town 5. Step Off 6. Family is Family 7. Fine 8. It is What It Is 9. Crazy 10. Merry Go Round 11. High Time 12. A Spoonful of Sugar 13. Late to the Party 14. Die Fun 15. Follow Your Arrow 16. These Boots Are Made For Walking Performance Date: Sunday 13th March 2016

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