Compared to last years frankly lacklustre Songwriters evening, this was a massive return to form, if there was one hangover from 2018 it was the reappearance of considerable talking in the bar area and a procession of people seemingly unable to sit still for 90 minutes.
The evening itself saw 8 stools placed on the stage, 5 at the front for the main protagonists, three in the second row for additional guitarists, 1 for Jimmie, and 2 supporting Cam. It was Cam who was the host, who sat centre stage that kicked things off with "Diane" to many whoops in the crowd. Her outfit really caught the light and Cam was in fine voice, with her guitarists also chipping in on backing vocals. This was an excellent way to open proceedings.
Sitting to Cam's left was Laura Veltz. somewhat elfin looking, who was a little bemused at having to do press, considering herself to be a "Little staff writer from Nashville".. To match the high standard, she chose a song co written with Josh Osborne and recorded by the Eli Yong Band, "Drunk Last Night".. Laura played left handed and some help from Travis Denning on backing vocals.
To Laura's left, and also playing his guitar left handed was Travis Denning, wearing a cap, with a wry sense of humour and a voice made to sound slightly more gravelly by having to fend off a cold. He kept the momentum going with "After A Few" his single from January.
At this point ownership of the microphone went to the other end of the line to Jimmie Allen For his songs Jimmie chose to stand and his voice live far surpassed that of the of his "Mercury Lane" record from which his choice "American Heartbreaker" came from, it was warmer, richer and more personable.
Ross Copperman used to live in London and was somewhat giddy on having gone to the Houses of Parliament. His song also another Josh Osborne co write along with Matt Jenkins was recorded by Kenny Chesney and Pink. Ross's version had more the sound of a traditional singer songwriter about it, but was none the worse for that, closing out a high quality opening salvo of songs.
For Round 2, Cam opened with some stories about her time in London flying in to guest with Sam Smith. "Palace" displayed a really powerful voice and overall she just seemed to be a lot stronger vocally than when she was at C2C a couple of years earlier, this was an exceptional performance.
Laura chose a song written with Maren Morris for her second offering, "Rich" was described as a "goofy song" and Laura confided that on the record she contributes the "ker ching ker ching".
Possibly the most overtly country song so far came from Travis with the poignant ballad "Her World Or Mine" as recorded by Michael Ray. Travis from Georgia want on to say it was his favourite song of his sung by someone else before putting in a truly excellent version
Jimmie Allen again standing, gave us two songs for the price of one starting with 30 seconds or so of the Abby Anderson co write "Make Him Wait" as he had promised someone he would, but with Abby not there it was stopped and he broke into a bit of the background of "Make Me Want To" before delivering a version again more personal and heartfelt than the recorded version.
Ross Copperman gave us a version of the song recorded by Friday's headliner Keith Urban, "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16" even attempting to shoe horn in some English references so at one point we had John Cleese making an appearance It was enjoyable stuff even if it did end in a little bit of a shambles!.
Before Round 3 began properly there was a slight interlude as we witnessed an AMA Award being given to Ward Thomas for promoting country music outside of America. With a borrowed guitar from one of Cam's team an impromptu "Cartwheels" was performed which got a great reception,
Cam started Round 3 in earnest with "My Mistake" with a banjo and guitar backing her there was a more that a little of Dolly Parton in this performance.
The joy of these performances is the cross pollenation between artists so when Laura Played "Live Forever" ( the Kane Brown version not the Oasis one!) it was great to hear Travis throwing in the guitar solo. It was one of those tunes that was instantly likeable that was perfectly topped off with that solo.
Travis then injected a bit of volume into proceedings with a song written with Devin Dawson, "Snakes and Needles". Jimmie also continued to show that "Mercury Lane" barely gave an inkling as to how good he is as a live performer, this stripped down version paradoxically was bigger and better than the recorded version with some big powerful vocals wowing the assembled crowd.
Ross Copperman completed the round with a song co-written with Dierks Bentley, a song to "Honour our wives". and "Woman Amen" certainly did that. With Laura and Travis joining in on the chorus this became a real communal effort by the end.
Round 4 was to prove to be the last complete round of the evening, once again starting with Cam who opted to go with a new song co-written with a previous Songwriters Evening guest, Lori McKenna, "Forgetting You When I'm Alone", about the person you can't get out of your mind, continued her run of superb vocal performances.
Laura Veltz brought out her "Job security" song for her final effort preceding it with an imaginary future where she is asked to sing at a wedding as the bride and groom can't afford Dan & Shay. with a somewhat "funky" guitar threatening to go out of tune she really went for it, even the big old notes which for someone who is not a regular performer is a brave thing to do in front of such a big crowd. Complete with another Travis guitar solo the audience duly showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.
Travis Denning may only have a couple of singles available in the UK at the moment but he seems destined to have a bright future as not only a songwriter but as a performer..His final song "David Ashley Parker From Powder Springs" was co written with Jon Randall and Jesse Alexander. The song about finding and using a fake id and the benefits that can be obtained by having such an item. is pretty self explanatory however in this version Travis stopped the song to give us various updates about the person in the song including the fact that he appears in the closing frame sof the accompanying video.
Jimmie Allen for his final song dispensed with his guitar, which set the scene for a performance that would make him one of the stars of the whole weekend. With a lovely speech preceding the song telling the crowd about how he had worked many jobs before he found success and that they should not "Quit your dream". he started "Best Shot" only to then disappear from the stage and reappear in the balcony, to continue, shaking hands as he went.
For Ross it was then a bit of a case of how do I follow that? but when you have a Kenny Chesney. song to close out on in "Get Along" you are always going to be relatively safe
Round 5 was something of a mini round in that it consisted of just one song. Cam was never going to be allowed to leave the Indigo without playing "Burning House" . There was a little bit of the thinking behind the song before the Indigo became awash with the lights of mobile phones to bring the evening to a close.