I got more than I bargained for on the UK opening night of Thomas Rhett’s Home Team Tour. As with so many gigs at the moment, last night was more about the support act for me. I’d seen Thomas live before but missed radio favourites Old Dominion on their 2016 visit. They started their swift set with one of their biggest hits Snapback. That’s the joy of an opening act – there’s no teasing; they’ll give the big song you came to hear with no need to hold it back for the mandatory faux-encore.
With that summer soundtrack the crowd (which was at least 47% checked shirt clad) were launched into an incredible, uplifting session, beers raised singing along full volume to songs like No Such Thing as a Broken Heart. For the 45-minute set I was temporarily transported from the concrete London amphitheatre into an August Tennessee road trip.
I, like the girls I met in the ladies loos straight after their set, felt I could go home right then, before the main act, fully satisfied. After this tour, they’ll be back on the main stages of Country 2 Country festival, so in the interest of public safety, I thought I’d warn you of a few hazards to watch out for.
Injury from Hand Sway Clash
I know that for the rhythmically challenged being asked to clap or sway can be a stressful time during a gig. As a rule, mirror what the main singer – in this case frontman Matthew Ramsey – is doing. If you find you are hitting other people, when you sway then pause and redirect. But without fail there are always more than a few who just cannot get their arms swaying along the in the right direction, and last night was no different. I tried to be sensitive as the hand of the girl on my right collided with mine. At least I think it was her going the wrong way…
Nauseating Public Displays of Affection
I’m not a complete Grinch (or whatever the Valentine equivalent of The Grinch is). I understand that if you’re standing next to the love of your life during romantic lyrics like those in the brilliantly conceptualised Written in the Sand, you’re going to start feeling amorous. But the couple directly in front of me took it a little too far. I don’t think they saw any of Old Dominion’s performance. They could’ve used their ticket money to pay for a cheap hotel room and just put on the band’s aptly named “Happy Endings” album on. I was incredibly tempted to sabotage their romance by bribing a guy to go over, tap her on the shoulder and mouth along to “I know you ain’t in love with him, Break Up with Him”.
Not actually seeing Old Dominion
Luckily for me, I didn’t fall foul of this hazard last night, but there are a fair number of disappointed country fans this morning. They turned up early. By the 7 p.m. doors opening time, the queue was around the block. But perhaps the venue were unprepared for a show with a support act so strong they could have been the headliners. By 8:15 p.m. when the band began, the queue was still around the block. While I was inside loving the Roundhouse, happy that I wasn’t squashed in like at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire, that wherever you stood you could see the stage, and that the sound was great… others missed it all.
I’ve never been good at science, so I’m not entirely sure this one is a real hazard, but the feel-good levels were soaring last night. It began when the band seemed so genuinely chuffed to be there and that we’d all shown up. Not ‘chuffed’ in the frequent American lip-service “love you guys” way; instead Matthew seemed sincerely moved when he yelled “it feels really good y’all”. Between the beer, the band’s enthusiasm and camaraderie, and the fan who threw them a cuddly penguin; by the time they reached the Song for Another Time finale, I was in an incredibly happy place.
If you’re willing to risk the above hazards, you can see Old Dominion for yourself across the UK on these dates:
11th Nov 2017 – Birmingham, O2 Academy (supporting Thomas Rhett)
12th Nov 2017 – Manchester, Manchester Academy (supporting Thomas Rhett)
14th Nov 2017 – Glasgow, O2 Academy (supporting Thomas Rhett)
15th November 2017 – Belfast, Waterfront Hall Auditorium (supporting Thomas Rhett)
9th March 2018 – London, O2 Arena (C2C Festival)
10th March 2018 – Glasgow, SSE Hydro (C2C Festival)
11th March 2018 – Dublin, 3 Arena (C2C Festival)
Did you get into the Roundhouse? What did you make of the gig?