A year has passed since Maren Morris last toured the UK and for her return she decided to do something a little different. Following her well-received performance on the Main Stage at C2C: Country to Country 2017, Morris embarked on a UK tour last November. That tour was selling out mid-sized venues such as O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire so fans expected her next shows to be even bigger. Earlier this year Morris announced that she was going back to her roots for a show called Acoustic Revival and promised fans it would be an intimate experience. She stayed true to her word by announcing a one-off show at Omeara in London, a venue with a 350-capacity.
The show sold out in one minute, which is hardly surprisingly given that Morris has established herself as one of the leading female artists in Country music since the release of her 2016 major label debut Hero. Staying true to the Acoustic Revival name of the show, Morris was accompanied by Annie Clements on upright bass and Bennett Lewis on guitar. Of course Morris had her trusty guitar strapped to her for the entire set too. The set opened with Drunk Girls Don’t Cry and the audience quickly got into the swing of hearing Morris in a different setting than we’re used to.
The set list for the most part focused on songs from Hero. Rich, which is looking increasingly likely to be Morris’ second number one single, was an early highlight with the singer-songwriter telling the crowd that she was amazed how well the song had done for her. She also smiled a cheeky grin when the audience screamed out ‘shit’ on the chorus, which of course is edited out on the radio. The emotional I Wish I Was sounded fantastic acoustic and Bumming Cigarettes, a track from the Deluxe Edition of Hero, went down a storm with the sold-out audience.
Away from Hero, Morris served up plenty of surprises. She performed new track To Hell and Back, which was written shortly after Hero and will be featured on her upcoming new record. Before performing it she explained that she’s found it hard to write love songs in the past but since dating and marrying fellow singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd, she’d found they come to her a little easier. Hurd was in attendance last night and joined Morris on stage for Last Turn Home, a song they co-wrote for Tim McGraw. It was another special moment during a very special night.
Elsewhere Morris did her take on Greener Pastures, a song she and Hurd co-wrote with Brothers Osborne for the duo’s album Pawn Shop, and she got emotional talking about the Route 91 Harvest Festival tragedy before performing Dear Hate. One of the stand out moments of the night was Morris’ incredible rendition of John Prine’s Angel From Montgomery. She explained that she’d been playing the song since she was about 9 or 10 and she sounded stunning. Morris gets a lot of crap from the Country world for being too pop but listening to her sing that song acoustic is a reminder of just how deep rooted her Country roots really are.
I Could Use a Love Song was a poignant moment in the night, and a reminder of just how hard Morris has worked to get her music heard in a male-dominated industry. She told the crowd how a male radio executive (who is no longer in his job by the way) advised her that people don’t want to hear women being sad on the radio. Thankfully she ignored that ridiculous advice and achieved her first number one with the track. For the last two songs Morris switched up her Zedd and Grey collaboration The Middle, and it sounded amazing as an acoustic song, and ended with My Church. The latter turned into a huge sing-a-long with the audience and Hurd reappeared on stage to provide some backing vocals.
Seeing Morris in a place as intimate as Omeara was truly special. I’ve never seen the venue so packed and it’s one of the loudest crowds I’ve been part of in 2018. Morris let slip that she’ll be touring in the UK in 2019 including a headline show at the Royal Albert Hall. She wouldn’t confirm exactly when that would be but teased that it’s sooner than we’d think. By that time Morris’ new album should be out and we’ll have plenty of new tracks to learn the words to. Last night Morris proved that she more than lives up to the hype and she’s paving the way for other female artists to get their music played on radio and up to the top of the charts.
Set list: 1. Drunk Girls Don’t Cry 2. Rich 3. I Wish I Was 4. Second Wind 5. Bumming Cigarettes 6. Last Turn Home (with Ryan Hurd) 7. Greener Pastures (Brothers Osborne) 8. Angel From Montgomery (John Prine) 9. Dear Hate 10. 80s Mercedes 11. To Hell and Back 12. I Could Use a Love Song 13. The Middle 14. My Church Performance date: 26th November 2018