Originally from a small town in Louisiana, Lainey Wilson wrote her first song aged nine and learned to play guitar when she was 11. She wowed the UK audience when she made her first trip over here last October for Country Music Week, and this weekend she came back to play a string of shows across C2C Festival weekend, including a full band set at the BBC Radio 2 Stage yesterday morning.
I absolutely loved Wilson’s solo acoustic set when she was here in the autumn, so was really looking to seeing her perform with a band. She opened her set with her first single Workin’ Overtime, which had a rocky, grungy feel and showed off the husky tones in her voice. Right from the start she could be seen moving around on her stage and her energy levels were high despite the early hour. The crowd clapped along throughout and gave her a huge round of applause as she hit a huge note at the end of the song.
One thing which stood out to me was how much energy Wilson had – especially given the early hour and the fact she’d played a late night set at the Saloon just hours before. She gave a very animated performance, spinning around during the soulful, bluesy Waste Of Good Whiskey and swaggering across the stage during Pour More, where she showed her ‘sassy side’ and the drawl in her voice as she danced to the funky groove. I also thought she was very engaging and chatty, with wry deadpan humour as she talked about the stories behind her songs, particularly before the defiant, tongue-in-cheek Middle Finger which highlighted her clever songwriting.
As well as performing songs which the UK audience has heard before, Wilson also took the chance to showcase some newer material. Her anthemic, powerful rendition of Microphone was full of passion and conviction, whilst Rolling Stone opened with an atmospheric intro before picking up into a driving chorus. Her smooth vocals reminded me of a young Dolly Parton and she kept the crowd going throughout, encouraging them to clap along on the upbeat What Would Dolly Do, which got plenty of people dancing along.
Wilson closed her set with High On Somethin’, which she mixed with a snippet of the Beatles classic Come Together. The track’s stomping rhythm and wailing guitars provided the perfect backdrop to her huge, powerful vocals and it was mesmerising to watch her getting lost in the music, with her eyes closed and waving her arms as she stood at the microphone. At the end of the song she hit a massive note and the audience roared their approval.
Overall I came away from Wilson’s performance incredibly impressed. I thought she was great at Country Music Week but performing with a band seems to have elevated her even further and given her a real freedom to show off not only her vocal chops but also her talents as an entertainer and performer. She mentioned she’s going into the studio to start work on her debut album this week and personally I cannot wait to hear more from her. On the strength of this performance, it’s going to be something special.
Set list: 1. Workin’ Overtime 2. Waste Of Good Whiskey 3. Pour More 4. Middle Finger 5. Microphone 6. Rolling Stone 7. What Would Dolly Do 8. High On Somethin’/Come Together (Beatles cover) Performance date: 10th March 2019