When Kelsea Ballerini announced her debut UK show, few would have expected that it would be at the relatively small “Under The Bridge”, for although she currently only has one album to her name she is a big name across the pond and the huge snaking queue in position well over an hour before doors opened were a testament to her drawing power. Equally anyone thinking that the show would be scaled down were set straight from the opening song “Yeah Boy” as the lighting and backdrop videos were as good as many that you’d hope to see at the O2 or a big arena show.
This was polished pop country at its best and the audience lapped up every moment and she ticked every box, like stepping down from the stage to be closer to the audience during the third song “Square Pegs”. Throughout the night, she seemed genuinely amazed at how popular she was in the UK, from the show selling out in less than an hour to the fact that large swathes of the audience knew the words to every song whether it was released or not. By the time she hit “Dibs” the whole audience was singing in unison.
Before we get too carried away, I should point out that things were not completely fault free, the sound from Kelsea’s cordless microphone was a little muffled and seemed to drop out on occasions where we were positioned but these would be minor quibbles on what was definitely, a special event to attend. It was not all up tempo though and thing slowed slightly for “Stillettos”
By now she was “freaking out” as we got a little glimpse of songs to appear on her forthcoming follow up album, “We Were Roses” had a pretty punchy sound to it, while for “High School”, there was a complete change as the stage stripped down to just 3 acoustic guitars for a reflective song about growing up. The power chords soon returned though for “Sirens”.
With only one album to her name there were bound to be a couple of covers, “Girl Crush” and “Blue Ain’t Your Colour” filled the set out. One new song which really showcased her sense of humour was “I Hate Love Songs” which was very funny on first listen. Ever full of surprises there then came a medley of snippets of songs just played solo, with Kelsea at home performing a little narrative to link them “Let If Go”, “Sorry”, “Too Late To Apologise” and “Peter Pan” were among this little segment that showed there is another side to her away from the big production numbers.
The set was eventually to close with a storming “XO” and it would be mean to say that she had been anything other than extremely entertaining, and that few could have come away from the show anything other than impressed. The encores began with Kelsea playing guitar and singing “The First Time” while in the audience surrounded by a plethora of iphones. She returned to the stage to close out the night with “Love Me Like You Mean It”, if this was an audition for a C2C 2018 slot, she surely passed the test with flying colours.