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C2C: Country to Country 2018 – Kelsea Ballerini live review

Taking a break from her headline US tour, the singer-songwriter made her C2C debut today.

Kelsea Ballerini
Credit: Sarah Barlow

Kelsea Ballerini has been playing the long game when it comes to launching herself in the UK. Her debut album The First Time finally arrived in the UK last year ahead of her first headline show in London at Under the Bridge. That show was a huge success for Ballerini and she plotted a quick return as the main support for Lady Antebellum on their You Look Good World Tour, which arrived on our side of the pond in October. Her inclusion on the C2C: Country to Country bill isn’t surprising and to be honest I expected her to have been on the 2017 line-up.

Ballerini has taken a short break in her debut headline US tour The Unapologetically Tour to perform at C2C. Opening her set with Love Me Like You Mean It, Ballerini eased us in with one of her best-known hits. It was a wise choice as the uptempo beat and feel-food nature of the song resonated with the audience, who were still buzzing from Old Dominion’s opening performance. The set list for the evening mostly focused on Ballerini’s latest studio album Unapologetically with a sprinkling of her hits so far.

The pulsating beat of Miss Me More continued the high-energy of the set and Ballerini sounded fantastic. Her voice has a fragile quality at times that she often turns into strength and she never faltered throughout her performance. Recent number one single Legends was one that got the audience involved as they sang every note along with Ballerini. She followed that with the perky Dibs, which saw her working the stage and interacting with members of the audience.

For In Between Ballerini slowed things down, enjoying an acoustic moment. Perched on a stool at the edge of the stage, Ballerini delivered one of her best vocals of the night and it was a definite case of goosebumps for me. New single I Hate Love Songs, one of Ballerini’s finest to date, prompted a strong reaction from the crowd before giving way to the atmospheric Music, where Ballerini took the opportunity to introduce the members of her band.

Peter Pan, the song that really gave Ballerini her breakthrough, came next and the song remains as emotive as ever. It’s a perfect example of how Ballerini can directly realte to her audience through her lyrics, and that song is perhaps one of her most relatable. Unapologetically, the title track of her latest album, was the penultimate song of the evening and Ballerini worked in a little bit of Can’t Help Falling In Love into the mix.

For her last song Ballerini chose Yeah Boy, a song that sounds much better live than it does on record. It was an uptempo way to end what had been a very engaging and enjoyable set. Judging from the screams from the audience, Ballerini hit the mark tonight and I doubt it’ll be long before she’s back in the UK for her own headline tour. She definitely has crossover potential here in the UK and tonight she proved she’s one of the best female Country artists in the genre right now.

 

Set list: 1. Love Me Like You Mean It 2. Miss Me More 3. Get Over Yourself 4. Legends 5. Dibs 6. In Between 7. I Hate Love Songs 8. Music 9. Peter Pan 10. Unapologetically/Can’t Help Falling In Love 11. Yeah Boy Performance date: Friday 9th March 2018

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