Midland, Danielle Bradbery Omeara London Bridge
With C2C finally over, there is no let up in things to see with at least 3 excellent shows being staged across London on the same night. #TEAMw21 decide to end it by seeing two of the artists that had started it all for us Danielle Bradbery and Midland who had been at the Big Machine Showcase.
Omeara is secreted around the back streets of Borough, as you enter the venue and take a step towards the tiny wooden stage, the walls look a little run down though i'm assured this is a designer distressed look and it makes for a great little space. The stage as mentioned earlier was a small wooden affair with little room one the drums, and guitars were laid out on it. The temperature outside may have had a little nip in the air and perhaps everyone is a little bleary eyed, after all for many this was at least their fifth or sixth consecutive night of country music but no-one was going to miss this we may well never see these artists at a venue this small again.
Danielle Bradbery has done nothing but impress for the whole duration of her stay, whether it be at the Big Machine Showcase, the Indigo for her Radio 2 set or even just by hanging out with the ordinary folk at All Bar One on the Songwriters evening. Tonight she is dressed impeccably in a red top and black trousers, her voice is perhaps got a slightly rougher edge to it than it had 6 days a go but this girl has both sung her heart out and had to deal with the english weather. Upon taking to the stage and seeing how packed the venue was she was slightly taken aback "So close so intimate!"
The set is by now pretty much standard, with as ever "Human Diary" being a stand out song that brought the house down. There was also a first outing in our presence of "Heart Of Dixie" for which absolutely no quarter was spared on those lines "She didn't know till she hit the road". This show was probably the icing on the cake for Danielle and she was able to stop singing during "Sway" to grin as the audience sung the words back to her causing her to exclaim "so cool!". There was one final song with which to finish her first trip to the UK and that was a blistering version of "Worth It".
For Midland this European trip has been something of a tour of duty, a different plane every day, as they are pointed at a stage to perform on, followed by a lack of sleep and an excess of alcohol has led to one final show before they can return to the US. The set is scheduled for 90 minutes but in the end it will run to nearly 2 hours, it will at times seem kitch and ramshackle but I bet if you listen to the playback there will not be a bum note hit all night. There are some startling revelations such as they did not even soundcheck for the Main arena show at the O2 they just walked out and wanted to let it it hit them.
In the flesh they are even more impressive than on their excellent "On the Rocks" album, and they rattled through "This Old Heart" into the Mexican feel of "At Least She Cried" with some shameless posing and some quite wonderful harmonies. Lead singer Mark stood tall with just inches between his head and the low ceiling.
Detailing the events of a Midland gig can require more of a small paperback than a short review so let's try to share a few, the deafening roar that accompanied the completion of "Electric Rodeo" or the audience participation on "Burn Out",
There was a little covers section of influences on the band from Alabama's "Dixieland Delight", through an absolutely storming version of Tom Petty's "American Girl" to the restrained singing on Springsteen's "Tougher Than The Rest" which saw the stage set to blue and finished with cries of "Bruuuuuuccccceeee" from the audience!
To show what a multi talented band they are, "King Of Saturday Night" saw Cameron take the lead vocals, while "Gamble" saw Jess take over on vocal duties. As the end of the evening approached things were to get ever stranger, technically the main set ended with a storming "Make A Little" though there was to be no leaving the stage routine, they just carried right on.
The first official encore was "Drinkin' Problem" , which received a huge response and then there were some discreet conversations and suddenly we were off set list with a bonus encore "All Is Forgiven". Things then seemed to go into a bit of a Twilight Zone, Cameron went to play drums, the drummer played bass and then once again we were paying tribute to the great Tom Petty with "Mary Jane's Last Dance". All of the band had a verse of Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" with Cameron taking the first verse in a falsetto voice, with Jess taking the second and Mark the third with everyone pitching in on the chorus. In another "What the ..." moment the bass player ( who was originally the drummer) now became the saxophone player for one final song a cover of Bob Seger's "Turn The Page" which was as epic a way to close a tour as you could find.
If this review has covered even half of the events of that night i'll be surprised and we're sure to have left somebodies favourite moment out. The climax when it came was quite bizarre, Mark stepped off stage, walked through the crowd and stood by the bar, where signed and had photos with just about everyone and possibly a drink or two!, Jess likewise was mingling and signing while Cameron looked as if he had given every ounce of his fibre on this tour and was a shell of the man who had started the evening and looked like he could sleep for a week.
This show is undoubtedly one we'll never forget, for Midland I suspect it'll be more of a question of whether they'll be able to remember it!