Brett Young is rapidly establishing himself as one of the top new acts in country music, with his first three singles all going to number one in the US. He’s also building a growing fan base over here in the UK since touring over here with Lady Antebellum in 2017. After giving fans in the O2 Arena a taste of his show earlier in the evening, last night Young took to the Indigo stage as the headliner at this year’s first C2C Aftershow Party.
Young walked on stage and performed an a capella snippet of the Beatles’ With A Little Help From My Friends – a theme he’d return to throughout the show – before moving into a rock-influenced version of Close Enough. The song really highlighted the soulful side to his voice and his gravelly tones gave it an added edge. The crowd were singing along throughout and it was clear they knew every word.
In keeping with the party atmosphere, Young kept the early part of the set focused on more uptempo songs, such as Memory Won’t Let Me and Makin’ Me Say. Throughout his performance he moved around the stage, interacting with the crowd and waving at fans on the upper balcony, and absolutely oozed charisma. He obviously loves performing and I felt that both he and the audience were feeding off each other’s energy throughout the set.
One thing that surprised me was Young’s ability as a songwriter. In particular the first verse of Beautiful Believer, which Young was inspired to write after hearing about legendary songwriter Jimmy Robbins’ move to Nashville, had some gorgeous evocative imagery and a lovely laid-back feel about it. Meanwhile, You Ain’t Here To Kiss Me put you right in the plane cabin on New Year’s Eve. It’s a side of Young many people may not know about but based on this evidence I’ll be keen to see what he can come up with for a future album.
However, the songs that got the biggest crowd reactions were the ballads, particularly Young’s two most recent singles Like I Loved You and In Case You Didn’t Know (which one couple got engaged to on the spot!). On Like I Loved You, I thought Young captured the emotion of the song really well and it suited the rich tones of his voice. In Case You Didn’t Know, however, took on a different feel with a piano intro and Young’s vocals made the song seem much more heartfelt than when I’ve heard it previously. Other standout moments included his sparse cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah, which highlighted the depth and growl in his voice, and downplayed but still impactful new single Mercy.
Young closed the set with his debut single Sleep Without You, which for me encapsulated the show with its quick lyrical delivery, funky melody and warm vocals. It got the audience dancing and singing at the top of their lungs, despite the late hour, and finished the whole performance on a high note.
Overall I was really impressed by Brett Young’s performance. Having only seen him play shorter sets before, I was intrigued to see what he could do with more time and he didn’t disappoint. As well as the soulful vocals he’s become known for, it was nice to see a different side of him and show that he’s more than just a balladeer. There’s no doubt that after last night, the clamours for him to do a full UK tour will get louder, and frankly I’d be amazed if we don’t see him again in the UK very soon.
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Set list: 1. With A Little Help From My Friends (Beatles cover) 2. Close Enough 3. Memory Won’t Let Me 4. Makin’ Me Say 5. Like I Loved You 6. Beautiful Believer 7. Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover) 8. In Case You Didn’t Know 9. Crazy Love (Van Morrison cover) 10. You Ain’t Here To Kiss Me 11. Left Side Of Leavin’ 12. Mercy 13. Sleep Without You Performance date: 9th March 2018