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Walker Hayes, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London live review

The You Broke Up With Me star returned to the UK as support for Old Dominion.

Walker Hayes
Credit: Matthew Berinato

Back in March Walker Hayes went down a storm at C2C: Country to Country, where he played multiple sets across the weekend. It’s no surprise given the warm reception he received, that he’s not left it too long to head back across the pond for some more live shows. For his latest jaunt, Hayes is the main support of Old Dominion’s headline tour which is taking in dates across the country. With his new single 90s Country picking up traction, it’s the perfect opportunity for Hayes to reconnect with his UK fans.

Hayes treated his support slot like it was his own headline show and he certainly warmed the crowd up following Eric Paslay. He opened his set with Prescriptions from his current album boom. and his unique blend of Country/pop/R&B caught the attention of the sold-out audience. Hayes’ music has proven to be divisive, mostly for Country purists, but the crowd at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire were more than happy to lap it up.

Cramming in 8 songs over his slot, Hayes served up a selection of songs from boom. as well as his 8Tracks release. Break the Internet showcased Hayes’ wordplay ability while Beautiful was one of the first crowd sing-a-longs of the set. It was interesting to see Hayes free from his guitar and his tall figure worked the stage throwing some dance moves into the mix throughout. The effortlessly catchy Mind Candy was a highlight as was the second sing-a-long moment of the night, Halloween.

In the middle of the set, Hayes performed his latest track 90s Country. The song name checks plenty of popular hits from the decade and it went down a storm. The crowd seemed to know the words and the song itself is a nice progression from the sound heard on boom. You Broke Up With Me was the third and final crowd sing-a-long and Hayes looked a little taken aback with the reception he received. He finished his set with the tongue-in-cheek Kenny Chesney ode Shut Up Kenny before waving goodbye and exiting the stage.

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Whether you’re a fan of his music or not, it’s hard not to be taken in by Hayes’ unassuming charm. He’s one of the nicest guys in the industry and his music is pushing boundaries, which seems to make some people uncomfortable. I think he’s an innovator and his sound is so fresh and original. Seeing him live is witnessing him at his best and I hope it’s not long before Hayes returns to the UK for his own headline tour.

Set list: 1. Prescriptions 2. Break the Internet 3. Beautiful 4. Mind Candy 5. 90s Country 6. Halloween 7. You Broke Up With Me 8. Shut Up Kenny Performance date: 4th November 2018

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