There’s always love for country music in Glasgow, so even on a Monday night with extortionately priced tickets Miranda Lambert still managed to draw a decent crowd of fans keen to listen and appreciate the music. However what was a great gig has now been overshadowed by something of a social media storm, due to the abrupt ending to the show.
Starting off the evening were the support act Ward Thomas who were well received, getting the crowd clapping and singing along to their most uptempo numbers. As I’ve said before, I’m not convinced on any level that this act should be labelled ‘country’ but they are talented singers and displayed their vocal abilities well throughout the short set. They seem like nice girls and while their material is a little saccharine for my tastes I still have some hope they can blossom in the future.
As the gig filled up there was a great buzz in the crowd – loads of people wearing Highway Vagabond t-shirts and pink sunglasses (not just myself). Miranda came out to a roaring reception and played Fastest Girl in Town – she seemed to be enjoying herself and the band sounded fantastic. Kerosene lit the place up (ahem) and the crowd were singing along with this as well. Highway Vagabond had a brilliant groove to it live and Vice just gave me chills.
The tear jerkers ‘Over You’ and ‘The House that Built Me’ were beautiful (although perhaps not as perfect vocally as at C2C last year). I would happily have replaced Baggage Claim and All Kinds of Kinds with more from the new album but the crowd interaction on the latter song was genuinely lovely. Pink Sunglasses was awesome fun and I was singing and waving mine around like an idiot (sorry to anyone near me). Ugly Lights is one of my favourite songs by Miranda period and so I was really happy this was in the set list and sounding fabulous. Following that was Mama’s Broken Heart, which got the best reaction of the night.
Then we were treated to Gwen Sebastian performing her new song ‘Cadillac‘, co-written with Miranda. This song is a real slow burner and sounded stunning live. It was such a nice touch to let Gwen have her well deserved moment in the spotlight. Miranda then came back out and we had some great Texas honky tonk with ‘Ain’t Living Long Like This’ before crowd pleasers Automatic and Little Red Wagon. There was no moment when the gig dipped for me or where you could find fault – perhaps her vocals were a little low in the mix because she has such a huge band but only occasionally was this noticeable.
At the end of White Liar Miranda thanked us and walked off the stage smiling – she did not storm off at all. The band played on for a minute or two and then left as well. At this point no one thought there was any problem and it seemed certain she would come on to do one more song. Of course that is not what happened and despite our continued cheering she did not come back. To not hear Tin Man was disappointing, I have to admit, but overall I left happy. I was just confused because I know she usually does an encore so I was worried that she might have lost her voice or was ill (which still might have been the case). Only later on social media did the uproar begin. I feel it’s only right to address some of these points, even though I want to make it clear that I personally don’t think not playing an encore is a big deal.
Firstly some tweeters suggested that the crowd had been lacklustre or not wild enough to deserve an encore. Of course it has to be noted that Miranda has never had a hit in the UK so then the crowd is either really dedicated fans who seek her music out or those just go along to see any country act. Too many of the second type of people might be why Miranda said at one point we were ‘quiet’ and she was ‘nervous’ but to me at the time it just felt like she was just giving the crowd some permission to get up and go ‘crazy’ which loads of them did (well round about where I was the crowd were into it anyway!).
I think any perceived issues with the crowd were actually down to the choice of venue. This show wasn’t sold out, so one tier of the venue wasn’t used at all which is maybe why we weren’t that loud. Part of the reason for this has to be the high cost of tickets and the unfair ‘platinum’ ticket scheme run by Ticketmaster. Also an all seating venue just doesn’t have such a good atmosphere for the kind of show Miranda puts on and at this venue the seats are quite far away from the stage. There are other smaller venues in Glasgow that have mixed seating and standing which would have suited her better. Or start small and work your way up to a bigger space like Little Big Town have done in the UK. Still I don’t see how this crowd or venue would have affected her decision to cut a gig short.
And I just can’t understand why some are reporting that Miranda is blaming the Scotland/England ‘booing’ moment, since it was such a non event. She introduced her whole band as being from ‘Scotland’ as a joke and the last guy was from ‘England’ – clearly this was going to get a humorous reaction, in this case a few boos among the cheering. Maybe she just didn’t know that the history between these nations has resulted in a good natured rivalry, mainly involving making jokes at the expense of each other.
Can I state for the record that this obviously FAKE booing lasted about two seconds before everyone cheered again. Miranda laughed and so did her guitarist in question, then she introduced herself and played some more songs. There didn’t seem to be any problem or confusion on stage. If she was genuinely upset about this then she surely would have just walked off at that moment? If she got upset afterwards then she has misunderstood the crowd completely. In the end she must have known we loved her and the band because after she went off stage EVERYONE WAS STILL CHEERING for five minutes or more, even when the house lights went up and the exit music came on.
Sadly by not doing an encore a negative feeling that didn’t even exist at the gig has now been created online. I understand people paid a lot for tickets and are disappointed but there’s no guarantee that any act will play for a certain amount of time or a certain song. And just maybe there’s another reason (or myriad of reasons) why she didn’t play the last three songs written on the set list and she doesn’t have to share them with anyone. She played eighteen songs so she doesn’t owe anyone anything. It’s upsetting to think she was crying after the gig and I just hope she puts this behind her and remembers the good parts of this night and UK tour.
So the best you can say about the end of this gig is that Miranda left the crowd wanting more. To win a following in the UK you have to tour loads and try to make connections with fans online – there is so little exposure from the UK media for the country genre. That feeling of starting from scratch can be tough for someone as successful as Miranda and the online overreaction to this evening is probably not going to help.
I really hope Miranda and her wonderful band will return to Scotland soon – maybe a fresh venue and different night of the week would be a simple way to improve the experience for everyone. There are dedicated fans here who would love another chance to see her perform.