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Thomas Rhett - O2 Academy Birmingham 11.11.2017

This show was something I was extremely excited about attending. I mean on a cold, crisp winters night what else would you do other than go to a Country music show? This was my first time going to a Country show, and honestly I think because over here in the UK there seems to be a slight stigma that its weird to like Country music. I know shocker! But it definitely appears to be a stigma in the younger generations (so Gen Y and below) and so for me I was definitely excited to see how Birmingham would take on this show. Now what made it even more special for me was that the show was being held at the O2 Academy in Birmingham, which is where I've gone for many shows over the years. So I was excited to see how this genre would work in this venue.

So stood outside in one of the many, long queues despite how freezing cold it was outside I was warmed by the atmosphere. Looking round I was pleased to see many different age groups of men, women and children waiting to view the show. And honestly how happy and comfortable everyone was stood in a typical winters night, got me even more excited. And I can safely say I believe that the stigma of liking Country music in Birmingham is definitely being broken!

Now enough of the scene setting and to the music. Supporting was Old Dominion, and man can this band perform! This guys came onto the stage and just lit it up with; incredible music, power, great timing, and incredible vocals filled with natural harmonies! I mean the whole set was filled with this, but the way they opened up the whole evening was how you wish every show opened. Filled to the brim with talent, charm, incredible music and what I can only describe as country boy cheeky smiles. Their set included songs from their newest album plus prior releases, which meant the whole of the packed out room was graced with 'Written In The Sand', 'Break Up With Him', 'No Such Thing As A Broken Heart', 'Song For Another Time', 'Hotel Key' and 'Crazy Beautiful Sexy'. 'Hotel Key' was requested from an audience member at the beginning of the set and the guys actually performed it too. The banter from the guys in Old Dominion with the crowd was great too, making the whole of their set an experience and not just a gig. Oh and did I mention there was a few guitar solos and that lead singer Matthew jumped off the stage and was interacting with the front of the audience? No... Oh well that happened too! After an incredible performance the Old Dominion guys left the stage to allow for set up of the one and only Thomas Rhett to be completed before he graced his Birmingham - UK audience.

Lights, very well timed dance moves, great stage presence and country charm - Thomas Rhett's set in one sentence summed up. However, does that really give you an insight into this impeccable set? No it doesn't! Thomas Rhett and band came onto the stage with such charisma that it just illuminated the room. The stage was jam packed with Rhett himself, multiple guitar players (both lead and rhythm), bass, saxophone, drums, backing vocals and keyboard/synthesiser! All who brought a light, carefree, joyful vibe to life by being energetic, filling the stage with movement and simply being full of passion.

The music itself was phenomenonal! Each musician on that stage was one extremely talented person. The guitar riffs where quick, well executed and electric! The drums were fierce, booming and filled with such dynamic movement you had to really pull yourself away from the drummer. Bass was so well heard, I swear I nearly danced along to the bass only, because it was truly the heartbeat to the songs. and the acoustic guitar used when songs softened, was beautiful by visual and audio. Each strum radiated and filled our hearts. The dynamic on stage was mainly lively and fun, when the tempo of the songs changed to a more slower range the stage presence did alter slightly to accomodate the type of song being performed. However even with this change it was still a visual delight.

Rhett performed many of his songs, including '16', 'Let's Party Like Your On Vacation', 'I Could Die A Happy Man', and 'Unforgettable'. All that just oozed talent and passion. Honestly, this was one of the best shows I have ever been too, because of all aspects being covered. Rhett's voice was amazing, his lyrics are filled with things that many can connect to, and his very honest in their execution. Honestly, I could have stood in that venue listening to Rhett and the band pouring their talent and passion for music out all night long. I think what caught me so of guard about this set was that despite listening to Rhett's music, there is always a doubt in my mind with the technology we have now at whether that is how someone actually sounds. Now for me, Rhett sounds similar to his recorded and released work, yet there is a slight rustic twang to some words that unless you hear it live just doesnt stand out as much on the recorded stuff. And that twang of rustic vocals was what caught me off guard. Because the vocals already touch you, make you feel the emotions in the songs; yet that rustic quality makes it feel like you're really in that moment. It makes the vocals more organic. Another absolutely caught of guard moment was when the band switch to playing a song that isn't Rhett's, and when Rhett himself banged out a killer cover of... Wait for it... Bruno Mars... '24k Magic'!! Yes you read that right. Rhett and band smashed it out, you could tell they were genuinely enjoying themselves as there were smiles all round, with cheeky faces at every point of the stage. Honestly, I have no other words for how amazing and out the blue it was.

To conclude my amazing experience at my first ever Country music show, I want to end with how incredible Thomas Rhett was with his banter about Birmingham (how we say it compared to Americans - honestly they say it nicer and I am a true Brummy so I'm allowed to say that), to his incredible transition from song to song, right down to that organic home grown sounding voice.

Overall it has shown me just how beautiful a Country show is, how incredible both Rhett and Old Dominion are, and further pushed my like of Country music into a solid love. Seriously, I am going to stalk this guys social medias and all ticket sites to see when they are next over here so I can purchase tickets and drag my friends and family to see them, because everybody needs to see them!

Review - Leanne Gibson

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