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Cassadee Pope CMT Next Women of Country O2 Academy Islington, London live review

The singer-songwriter returned to the UK to lead the CMT Next Women of Country tour.

Cassadee Pope
Credit: Cassadee Pope

Cassadee Pope is no stranger to the UK. She’s been touring over here since she was in her late teens, first as the frontwoman of Hey Monday then as a solo Country artist. She was last here for Country Music Week in 2018 and we caught up with her for an acoustic set while she was in town. In February Pope released her long-awaited second album Stages featuring the hit single If My Heart Had a Heart. Now she’s in the midst of the CMT Next Women of Country tour with Logan Brill and Twinnie, marking the first time that CMT has brought the tour to the UK.

Following Logan Brill and Twinnie onto the stage, Pope was the night’s headliner and there was a lot of energy from the audience when she launched into Take You Home. The hits kept coming with a rendition of 2014 single I Wish I Could Break Your Heart followed by one of the night’s early standouts, a performance of How I Feel Right Now from Stages. After an uptempo start, Pope slowed things down with If My Heart Had a Heart, a song that is among her best. She stripped it down for a slightly different arrangement and I appreciated being able to really hear those powerful vocals she’s known for.

After that Pope looked back to her 2013 debut Frame By Frame for the songs 11 and You Hear a Song. For me, those songs weren’t as strong as Pope’s newer material and I felt they brought an unexpected lull to the evening. Things picked up again when Pope invited Brill and Twinnie back for a rendition of Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now before bringing the tempo back with the catchy One More Red Light.

For Think of You, the number one hit song she released with Chris Young, Pope was joined on-stage by her boyfriend and former Nashville star Sam Palladio. While Palladio doesn’t possess the sultry, husky pipes of Young, he did a good job at standing in for him and his chemistry with Pope is evident.

Pope briefly exited the stage for the obligatory ‘leaving the crowd wanting more’ moment before returning to play her final three songs of the night. She looked right back to the beginning of her career for an acoustic performance of Hey Monday track Candles and then brought her band back for I’ve Been Good, the closing track from Stages and easily one of the night’s highlights.

The final song was Pope’s debut single Wasting All These Tears, which has sold more than a million copies to date. It was a fitting end for a night that celebrated Pope’s career so far and gave plenty of nods to the different parts of her journey. Vocally it was also one of her most impressive moments.

Pope put on a solid performance and she was a good choice to headline the CMT Next Women of Country tour. Of the night’s three performers, she was the best by some distance and her infectious energy helped keep the crowd interested during the set’s quieter moments. Personally, I would have liked a deeper dive into Stages and a little less of the Frame By Frame songs but that’s just my preference. Pope reminded her UK fans why they love her last night, and hopefully this will be the first of many trips to come in the future.

Set list: 1. Take You Home 2. I Wish I Could Break Your Heart 3. How I Feel Right Now 4. If My Heart Had a Heart 5. 11 6. You Hear a Song 7. Need You Now (Lady Antebellum cover with Twinnie and Logan Brill) 8. One More Red Light 9. Good Times 10. Think of You (with Sam Palladio) 11. Candles (Hey Monday song) 12. I’ve Been Good 13. Wasting All These Tears Performance date: 13th May 2019

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