A look down a tube carriage shows flashes of fringing and the odd authentic Stetson and we give each other the nod of secret, smug recognition. London Underground escalators become the red carpet to a surprising stream of cowboy boots. For once, the eagle-embroidered footwear, American flag t-shirt and satchel with the tassels are not a case of ‘either or’… It’s all on today!
The now annual trip to Country 2 Country (a country music festival in London’s O2 arena) brings, for me at least, a high akin to a religious experience. We are not just on route to a concert. We are on a pilgrimage; a homecoming to the extended family we’d hoped was out there, scattered across the isles of the UK.
I’ll admit the above analogy is a bit much; it’s neither British nor me to be so gushing. Yes, Luke Bryan’s girating was unnerving at times and there will definitely be a post about whether everybody who sings about tractors can be classed as country. Then, when one headliner yelled ‘this song is for all the farmers out there” while another chose to give a pro-gun rant, I wondered if some of country music’s culture will always be lost in translation.
But I am still grinning from the UK’s taste of Nashville. I have been propelled from an existence of almost apologising for my musical choices and having to justify the HUGE star I’m listening to – “yes seriously, he’s had more number ones than Beyoncé in the states!”, to this. A 30,000 strong secret-society meeting where my own playlist is bought to life and boot envy ensues. With pulled pork of course.
So, early bird tickets for C2C 2016 have been released and while the lineup is yet to be announced (and it will no doubt delight some and destress others) there is one thing the UK audience will offer the acts who cross the Atlantic. Grateful anticipation which will once again flood the Jubillee line.
I look forward to the day country superstars in top British venues is common place, but until that day, I look forward to my country music binge in London with y’all next spring.
Country 2 Country returns to London Friday 9th – Sunday 11th March 2018 (Info here)
Who’s coming with me?