Live Review: Miranda Lambert & Country to Country Festival, Glasgow Hydro 13/03/22

After three long and turbulent years C2C festival finally made its welcome return to Glasgow this past weekend. Two years ago it suffered from being the first of the major covid cancellations. Last year’s festival was also postponed, since the date hit right during the second wave. Many fans still had tickets from two years ago – for a completely different line up. The fact that this 2022 festival went on without a hitch is a miracle. Credit to all involved for bringing us Scottish fans a much needed booster dose of country music.

Before the show started I was walking around with wide-eyed wonder at just being back in such a big venue, with such a big crowd of likeminded fans. Normality, again. Few were really adhering to the ‘wear your mask when moving but not when drinking, eating or dancing’ recommendation but honestly it felt like a relief to see smiling faces. I selfishly just wanted to enjoy myself without worry since I’m fully vaccinated and antibodied up. Nothing was going to ruin my night. I left thoughts of the pandemic and world wars firmly on the outside. Escape felt like the only sane option.

Thankfully the musicians on stage seemed to feel the same. Everyone came ready to entertain and were as grateful to be there as we were. Opening the show we had an all female songwriters line up with Priscilla Block, Tiera and Morgan Wade sharing acoustic songs and stories with the audience. All three were vocally on point, offering something different.

Priscilla had a sassy, pop sound and she seemed like a natural performer charming the audience with stories of her dumpster diving before hitting it big with the song ‘Just About Over You’. I also loved her performance of ‘My Bar’ and so I hope to get a chance to listen and review her album this week. Tiera had a light, breezier style and again seemed to be so at home on the big stage.

Then we have Morgan Wade who offered more of the alternative, grittier sound which really stood out. Her voice was incredible, her songs were raw and real. She’s a star – maybe she isn’t a perfect fit for the more commercial, pop slant of C2C but on this evidence she could be a consistent, touring artist with the power to appeal to fans across the genres. I can’t wait to see her play with a full band and hope she can come back to the U.K. soon.

On the spotlight stages we also had two other female artists which by my count made it overall seven women performing on the Saturday which really was incredible (including Miranda and her bandmate Gwen Sebastian). Brittney Spencer has been gaining fans and momentum since breaking through last year. She sang three brilliant songs, including stand out ‘Sober and Skinny’. I’m looking forward to hearing her album and how she develops her sound. Erin Kinsey was the other performer, who had a Taylor Swift style sound.

Now the dream for me would be to have one of the C2C days as an all-female line up. It would’ve been amazing if Hailey Whitters and Ashley McBryde had been on this day but alas it was not to be and I was forced to listen to some male country singers. Apologies for the reverse sexism but all I knew about Russell Dickerson and Kip Moore was that they had big arms hahahaha. In the end I missed most of the former because I went to get food and merch. The latter played a heartfelt set of eighties sounding country rock, with lots of strobe lights, tears and guitar solos. And yes, they were both wearing sleeveless t-shirts which allowed some of the women in the audience to touch the said famous arms. Impressive stuff (the muscles more than the music, for me anyway).

And then finally, after four and a half years, Miranda Lambert returned to Scotland. To say I never thought I’d see her play in Glasgow again after last time’s drama was not an exaggeration. Therefore I had more than a little apprehension about the crowd and how she was going to be received. Added to that was the fact that C2C fans have not always been the most welcoming to female artists either.

In the end I shouldn’t have worried. The place was packed and it was easiest the biggest crowd Miranda’s played to in Scotland. Everyone was enjoying themselves. We have the pandemic to thank for the upbeat, party mood as well. Miranda was a total professional from start to finish. She never mentioned the last time beyond saying something about how she loves playing here, which was enough to win any in the crowd who might have been uncertain. And she made sure she played the two songs that she skipped last time – a stunning solo version of ‘Tin Man’ and a brilliant version of ‘Gunpowder and Lead’. She isn’t the Entertainer of the Year for nothing.

From start to finish she didn’t let up and the band were fantastic. Some of the songs from the Wildcard album got a welcome UK debut including ‘White Trash’, ‘Settling Down’ and the absolute crowd favourite ‘Tequila Does’. That song felt even more of a poignant celebration since the sad death of her longtime guitarist Scotty Wray recently.

We also got three new songs from her upcoming album Palomino, to be released in April. Recent single ‘If I Was a Cowboy’ sounded fantastic live and the lyrics offer another intriguing entry into the growing list of Miranda’s LGBT friendly songs. ‘Strange’ was released this week and wasn’t played in London so hearing it felt like a special treat. The final new one was sassy ‘Actin’ Up’, already sounded like a live favourite to me.

Otherwise the set was filled with her biggest, brightest barnstorming songs. Everyone of them sounded loud and full of the energy that only she can bring. Highlights were Vice, Mama’s Broken Heart, That’s the Way The World Goes Round and the final rabble rousing anthem Drunk and Don’t Want to Go Home.

She didn’t play an encore this time either, but that seems to be her new style. Only Miranda could play a 22 song set and leave us wanting more. Again.

By the end of the night I had drunk a lot of wine, sang my heart out and danced my feet off, which is the sign of an evening well spent isn’t it?

C2C you were a dream. Beyond grateful to everyone for being brave enough to make this happen for the fans. Here’s to next year.

Photo by Kendall Wilson photography, with kind permission

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