C2C — Country to Country review: Diverse, illuminating and hugely enjoyable

The O2 Arena was transformed into a sea of Stetsons and steel guitars yesterday as the annual Country to Country (C2C) gathering descended on London for its seventh year.

An early standout was the extraordinary performance of Ashley McBryde who earned a standing ovation as her popular set came to a close.

“We brought a record out about a year ago and you bought so many copies of it you made it the best-selling record of any artist in 2018,” McBryde proudly asserted, the reach of modern country to the masses feeling more evident than ever.

“We just come all this way to say thanks,” she deadpanned, before delivering a rousing rendition of A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega and a rock-heavy version of Tired Of Being Happy.

After youth came experience, with four-times Grammy winner Lyle Lovett. Rich country orchestration abounded, especially on favourite Cute As A Bug.

Between the main acts there was a fun “spotlight stage” to showcase a host of newer artists. The Wandering Hearts felt like the most well-received here thanks to their harmonious blend of country-folk Americana and lush, earthy melody.

Chris Stapleton completed the event with a wide-ranging, career-spanning set. His huge voice continually captivated, especially when accompanied by a solitary acoustic guitar.

Presenting a positive mix of the old and the new, male and female, last night’s line-up was diverse, illuminating and enjoyable — and once again proved that C2C is well ahead of many of its festival counterparts.