A lot has changed since the last time we made our way to the O2 for our country fix at C2C festival. Mainly our stamina. After months of lockdown bedtimes and pyjama living, we’re not sure our brains have yet computed the words “three nights out out in a row”. In. A. Row.
This year (C2C Festival 11th-13th March 2022) we’re relying on the music high to take over and somehow transform us back to our energetic younger selves but, to make sure we survive until Luke Combs closes out the arena, we’ve vowed go easy on ourselves (and our livers).
For us that means no dashing from interviews and events and racing between daytime stages at opposite sides of the dome. We are off-duty and, just like in that first festival year when we’d rocked up and just gone with the flow, the plan is to catch up with long-lost friends and soak up whatever sounds we stumble upon.
Well, for the most part.
Even with those laidback intentions, there are a few acts our team may just have to break into a sprint to see. These are our picks from the acts performing around the various festival stages before the arena show. All their bios and timings can be found on the must-have C2C app (turn on notifications and you may also get alerts for some bonus surprises over the weekend).
Of course there is a huge spectrum on offer, depending on whether you like your country to make you dance or to make you cry; more like pop or more like poetry, so our top festival tip is always to be ready for the unexpected soul-piercing song.
So far American Idol has not steered us wrong. They’ve given us Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Scotty McCreery and now Laine Hardy, the 17th winner, with his deft guitar playing and raspy, older-than-his-years vocals.
Did you see Brittney and Brothers Osborne’s cover of These Boots Were Made for Walking at the end of the ACM Awards? Or perhaps You spotted her guest appearance singing with The Highwomen? If so, you’ll know what we want to see more of what she brings live. (She’s also on the arena Spotlight stage on Friday)
As a fan of the clever comedy lyrics only country music seem to deliver, we’ll be turning to Canadian Tim Hicks, for a feel good set. We’re really hoping he’ll perform Stronger Beer – a Brad Paisley level funny song playing Canadians vs. USA, but a lot of the lyrics apply to Brits too (‘we spell colour with a u’).
Combining smooth riffing R’n’B vocals (a must for fans of Brett Young) with chart country songwriting credentials, Shy is, ironically, a natural entertainer and his a-grade audience banter will remind you that yes, live concerts, are truly back.
Caitlyn has one of those voices you need to hear live to fully appreciate. She brings searing vocals over evocative lyrics, the kind we’d cry into a whiskey bottle over.
As a founding member of the Wandering Hearts, you’ll already expect good things, but this recommendation is based on the most surprising and unexpected covers of Cotton Eye Joe and Achy Breaky Heart.
You may have seen Pete Gow perform previously as front man of band Case Hardin. If not, expect bottle of whiskey and straight razor country; no mentions of trucks or beer, it’s all broken hearts, blues and accordion.
We always walk away from a Kezia Gill set vowing to learn the guitar (and grow our hair our and drink more whiskey). One of the coolest, most capable UK country artists out there.
One of the perks of the void of American artists crossing the Atlantic over the last few years is getting to notice and appreciate more British talent, like this Welsh singer-songwriter.
When the world paused and C2C 2020 couldn’t go ahead, our weekend of live music was slightly salvaged by Katy’s powerhouse set at a last-minute Buck ‘n’ Bull event which popped up to cater to 100s of lost country fans who’d already travelled to London. So, it feels poignant and fitting she should also be the soundtrack to us ‘unpausing’ the world.
Let us know who you can’t wait to see!
Brits in Boots
*Amelia is brand new to the team – you can meet her over the next few days on our socials.