The Busking Stage or should I say the Busking Mat if truth were told was a curious little area, situated at the far end of the O2 where the queues would form as they waited to go into Building 6 to see whatever events were occurring there. Once those queues disappeared I was slightly worried that there might be acts playing to hardly anyone but I'm happy to report that there were enough curious and intrepid C2C fans willing to trek around the O2 to seek out something new to ensure that all of the acts I saw played to a sizeable enough crowd to worry the stewards into shuffling people forward for fear of causing an obstruction.
Those that did journey round were met with a selection of high quality performances from acts that may not be household names now but as for the future who knows.? First up on Saturday morning were Fayre a duo of Cíara Rafferty and London born singer/songwriter Daniel Spiller although later they would appear on the Big Entrance Stage as a full band. They have a rather fine EP out form which the majority of their set was culled.
Their set started with "The Showdown" and they were a pleasant fusion of folk and country that was greatly appreciated by the crowd waiting to see Catherine McGrath et al inside Building 6. There was a first ever playing for "Take Love With You As You Go" which sounded very strong on first listen. We always judge a band by the quality of their choice of covers, and anyone choosing to cover Leonard Cohen's "So Long Marianne" gets a thumbs up in our book. There was a soft gentle ballad "I'll Be There" that matched a beautiful tune to lovely lyrics and was all the more effective for being seemingly simple, The pace picked up with "Union Town" which came with a lovely vocal performance from Ciara, while "Rosalie" about a girl with a dream had a chorus that you instantly dell in love with. They were equally impressive when I got to see a glimpse of them on the Big Entrance stage and will be someone we will follow up on post C2C.
As if to prove how the luck of the draw could go Days Are Done took to the Busking Mat just as the Building 6 crowd had disappeared, but they soon generated one of their own with their brand of well crafted tunes, many pretty recently written. Rather helpfully they had a little sign at the front of the stage for any passers by captivated by their sound.
"Never Let You Go" was an example of how immediately accessible they were while "Turn To Dust" their debut single from 2016 was a slow soulful duet that really built up in intensity. The winning run continued with "One Of These Days" while "A Thousand Reasons" did have a touch of early Shires about it, with its slow intense delivery.
Emmy & Adam make a fine combination, by the sound of things they both have been or maybe still are in other bands but i'd be tempted to kick them into touch having listened to their set, there is a natural warmth and charm about them, that makes them a pleasure to watch.
Whether it was the bouncy pop of "Can you Hear Me Calling?" or the captivating "Firewood" with lines like "You built it just to tear it all down" they were an absolute joy to behold.They closed their set with a number "Still Got Fire" that had a little showmanship display with a section performed off mic that got the crowd clapping along. #TEAMw21 will definitely be back to check on them in the months to come
As if to show both the quality of acts to be found on the Busking Mat! and the versatility of what can be achieved within the simple male / female duo format, our last spotlight falls upon Obadiah Jones, and Israeli vocalist, Orian Peled better known as O&O.
Their set opened with one of their singles "Travellin" with a chorus of lovely harmonies that were both simultaneous and criss crossing in a highly effective way. It was followed by "Comin Over" which has an almost jazzy feel and saw Orian take the vocals on the verse before they joined together again on the chorus.and again like Days Are Done they were natural performers getting the audience to click the fingers and singalong. They also knew their audience and a cover of "Jackson" was always going to curry favour and attract a crowd.
All three of the bands mentioned did not put a step wrong the whole morning, O&O in particular reeled off 3 songs of exceptional quality "Never Say You Are Sorry To My Face", the feminist country song "Not All about You" with some biting lyrics and the fun "Born In The 60's" with a free cd given away to an eagle eared listener who picked up the number of 60's references - great fun, great band - can't wait to see them again either!!