HomeEF CountryC2C: Country to Country 2023 - Lady A live review

C2C: Country to Country 2023 – Lady A live review

What is there to say about Lady A? Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood have been performing together for 17 years, had 10 number ones on the Billboard country charts, won countless awards – including a Song of the Year Grammy for their monster hit ‘Need You Now’ – and much more besides. They’ve also been frequent visitors to the UK, and last night returned for their third C2C headline set at The O2, having last played there in 2019.

Arriving on stage to a twangy, driving intro, the trio kicked off their 90 minute set with ‘We Owned The Night’, from their 2011 album ‘Own The Night’. The nostalgic track highlighted Charles and Hillary’s signature harmonies to their fullest as well as Dave’s skill as a musician, and provided a brilliant opening with tons of energy and joyfulness – not to mention that gorgeous soaring chorus and rocky bridge. The crowd responded by singing along in full voice and raising their hands in the air to clap along, and it provided the perfect way to open the show.

Throughout the performance the band picked tracks from across their history, running the gamut from the title track of their most recent album, ‘What A Song Can Do’, with its stomping, swaggering beat and nostalgic lyrics that highlighted the perfect balance between Charles and Hillary’s vocals, to their debut hit ‘I Run To You’ which provided a big singalong moment (as well as a chance for Hillary to show off some seriously impressive vocal runs!). I also loved seeing the camaraderie between them on stage, whether that was Charles playfully sticking his head into Hillary’s camera shot on ‘Our Kind Of Love’ or the searing energy that came from the two of them during the intense ‘Wanted You More’. It’s clear they’re very tight-knit – along with Dave, who did an absolutely sterling job playing everything from mandolin to piano throughout the set without a break – and that only seems to get stronger every time I see them live.

One particular standout section for me came midway through, beginning with the acoustic track ‘As Far As You Could’, an acoustic track performed by Charles accompanied by Dave and the band’s guitarist Slim Gambill. Described as a ‘goodbye note to whiskey’ and preceded by Charles speaking very candidly about his sobriety journey, the song had a huge amount of emotional clout enhanced by the stripped-back arrangement and provided an incredibly moving moment – especially as the crowd lit up the arena with their phones midway through. Hillary then rejoined them for a classic country mash-up of ‘Help Me Make It Through The Night’ and ‘Jolene’ before settling down at the piano to perform her version of Julia Michaels and JP Saxe’s ‘If The World Was Ending’. Her honeyed vocals suited the song perfectly and provided a great segue into singing with Charles on the utterly dreamy ‘Just A Kiss’.

I also loved finally getting to hear ‘Champagne Night’, which the band recorded after their involvement in the TV series ‘Songland’ back in 2020. It’s such a fun singalong party song and provided a brilliant moment for the whole of The O2 to dance along to, before going into a run of lively tracks including ‘You Look Good’ and ‘Bartender’ that really brought the crowd’s energy back up and gave Hillary in particular a chance to show her sassy side.

That said there was also plenty of space for fan favourites old and new, with the likes of the tongue-in-cheek ‘Downtown’ and the sweet, soulful ‘American Honey’ sitting along ‘Compass’, a rollicking banjo-influenced number from 2013 album ‘Golden’ that practically begged for the crowd to clap along to it. Elsewhere, ‘Heart Break’ provided a mellow, introspective moment and ‘What If I Never Get Over You’ saw both Charles and Hillary hit some incredible notes whilst highlighting the song’s raw emotional power.

After rocking out together with a bombastic rendition of ‘Love Don’t Live Here’, the band left the stage briefly before returning for a two-track encore. They kicked off with a cover of Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty’s ‘Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around’, then went into their signature hit ‘Need You Now’. It was a huge powerful moment with some very dramatic stormy staging, and clearly a very emotional one for the band – I could see Hillary struggling to hold back the tears as she listened to the crowd singing every word back to her at top volume, showing just how loved they are over here.

Overall Lady A’s set showed why they’ve continued to go from strength to strength after almost two decades performing together. Their harmonies and on-stage relationship is just as tight as ever, and they’ve hit a great combination of soft romantic ballads and playful uptempo numbers that added up to a perfect C2C headline set. It’s also clear they love playing to UK crowds, calling it ‘one of the best shows we’ve done’ and that it ‘gets better every time’ playing here. As they left the stage, they promised ‘we’ll be back next year’ – and we already can’t wait!

Set list: 1.We Owned The Night 2. Downtown 3. What A Song Can Do 4. American Honey 5. Wanted You More 6. Heart Break 7. Our Kind Of Love 8. I Run To You 9. Compass 10. What If I Never Get Over You 11. As Far As You Could (Charles Kelley with Dave Haywood and Slim Gambill) 12. Help Me Make It Through The Night/Jolene (Kris Kristofferson/Dolly Parton cover) 13. If The World Was Ending (Julia Michaels and JP Saxe cover) 14. Just A Kiss 15. Champagne Night 16. You Look Good 17. Bartender 18. Love Don’t Live Here Encore: 18. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers cover) 19. Need You Now Performance date: 11th March 2023

Laura Cooney
Laura Cooney
Laura has been writing for Entertainment Focus since 2016, mainly covering music (particularly country and pop) and television, and is based in South West London.

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What is there to say about Lady A? Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood have been performing together for 17 years, had 10 number ones on the Billboard country charts, won countless awards - including a Song of the Year Grammy for their...C2C: Country to Country 2023 - Lady A live review