Following her C2C: Country to Country debut in March, country singer-songwriter Cam has started quite the love affair with her UK fans. Just days after her performances at C2C, Cam did a one-off show at Bush Hall and the reaction she got was so great that she returned for another show last night. This time she took to the intimate setting of The Tabernacle in Notting Hill and delivered a near 2-hour unplugged show backed only by two musicians.
Having enjoyed Cam’s set on the Yamaha Music Stage during C2C, I thought I had an idea of what to expect when I took my seat at The Tabernacle last night. With one album, Untamed, under belt I was fully expecting Cam to perform a short set but that (thankfully) wasn’t the case. Few artists can truly pull of an acoustic show and it’s easily one of the bravest things to do as a performer.
Before she launched into the night’s first song My Mistake, Cam set the agenda for the night explaining that she would be telling the story behind each song before she sang it. That was the first proper glimpse that I’d had of Cam’s personality and she’s a confident, engaging and funny storyteller. She had the audience in stitches throughout the evening and by the end of the night I felt like I’d love to go down to the pub with Cam as she is clearly an absolute hoot.
It was clear from the outset that Cam’s voice was going to be the focal point of the night and she never faltered once. She showcased incredible vocal power and remarkable control, making it look effortless throughout. The set featured all of the songs from Untamed, with the exception of the title track, unreleased material and a couple of cover versions. The material showcased Cam’s versatility as a performer and her ability to tell powerful and compelling stories.
Mayday came early on in the set and it was one of the best vocals of the evening. The track hasn’t quite received the love on the charts that it should have done but it remains a stellar song that’s definitely a highlight on Untamed. After revealing her frustration at country music’s attitude to women, Cam launched into a cover of Lori McKenna’s biting Old Men, Young Women giving the audience plenty of laughs along the way.
Cam got to showcase a feistier side to her personality with the hilarious self-empowerment anthem Go Get ‘Em Cam and went a little darker on the excellent Manhunt, a song she said she was hoping to get the chance to record one day. One of the highlights of the night came when Cam explained the story behind a song she wrote about Fireball Whiskey. She revealed that she had submitted it to the popular drinks brand but had the song turned down due to its ‘irresponsible drinking’ message. Much laughter followed and the song was a huge hit with the audience.
Elsewhere in the set Cam performed a cover of Tom Kimmel’s Nobody Gets to Heaven, a song she saw him perform at the Bluebird Café and fell in love with, and explored past relationships on the excellent one-two punch of Stuck in the Middle and Down This Road. One of my favourite moments of the night came on the attitude-filled Country Ain’t Never Been Pretty, which sounded better live than it does on the record. The song explores the juxtaposition of the polished red carpet country you see at awards shows and the true meaning of being country.
The evening came to a close with Burning House. The audience took over singing for the penultimate chorus and you could see the joy beaming from Cam’s face. She had said several times throughout the evening that the audience had been fantastic and kind with their rapturous applause so the standing ovation she got after Burning House left Cam a little teary-eyed.
Cam put on a truly special show last night at The Tabernacle. It was one of those rare instances where you genuinely felt like you’d witnessed something special. The evening was like spending time with an old friend as they caught you up on what had been going on in their life. Cam is a fantastic talent and she proved last night that she has a wicked sense of humour and a potential side career in stand-up comedy. Most importantly though, she showcased what an incredible vocalist and songwriter she is, something that will see her rise against the misogyny that’s still rife in the genre to be a true breakout star.
Set List: 1. My Mistake 2. Mayday 3. Hungover on Heartache 4. Half Broke Heart 5. Win It All 6. Old Men, Young Women (Lori McKenna cover) 7. No One Gets To Heaven 8. Stuck in the Middle 9. Down This Road 10. Runaway Train 11. Manhunt 12. Cold in California 13. Go Get ‘Em Cam 14. Better Tough Love Than No Love At All 15. Village 16. Country Ain’t Never Been Pretty 17. Fireball Whiskey 18. Burning House Performance Date: 2nd June 2017