CMT Next Women Of Country - Cassadee Pope, Twinnie, Logan Brill - O2 Academy Islington
The inaugural "Next Women Of Country" tour reached its penultimate destination in London, providing a banner under which, 2 US acts can tour the nation with one UK act. providing a great evenings entertainment for a modest price. In recent weeks we'd remarked what a tight unit Twinnie's band were, and they turned out to be the backbone of the evening supporting both Twinnie & Cassadee as well as providing the guitarist to back Logan.
It was Logan who was to open the evening, dressed in a sparkly gold jacket, no stranger to UK fans having played at C2C 2017, Country Music Week and support slots with the Wood Brothers among others, In many ways it is a wonder that Logan Brill is not already a bigger star having released an excellent album in "Shuteye" and a string of singles that built on it. It was one of these singles, the current one "Roll" that opened proceedings. In fact the opening three songs proved to be those singles with Logan strapping on her own guitar for "Good Story" and although it was hard to create the power and bombast of the single with just two acoustic guitars providing backing, this was still attention grabbing stuff enhanced by guitarist Joel Peat backing vocals. The final of the singles "Giving Up" was the first opportunity for the crowd to provide backing vocals which they did with some gusto.
Amazingly it will be four years this year since "Shuteye" was released so it was good to see some of the songs being assembled for the second record. Logan put down the guitar and really concentrated on delivering the vocals on "Better Off", and before the Bonnie Raitt inspired "If We Didn't Break Each Others Hearts" there was a spectacular a capella version of one of her most famous moments "I Can't Make You Love Me" which saw her power out the lead vocals.with real meaning. A true new song, Logan's bid at a happy song "Morning Glory" sounded promising on first listen and the set was to close with another of those stand out singles, "Walk Of Shame" which saw the nights most subversive act as Logan got a UK country audience to close out her set by singing Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" as she blended it into the coda of "Walk Of Shame", A great performance that left you wanting to see Logan return to the UK in a more extended set.
Twinnie hot off two explosive London performances at C2C Indigo and The Lexington could easily have been derailed by only having acoustic accompaniment rather than a full electric band, in the end she generated her own electricity making up for any initial lack of oomph. so while the acoustic "Type Of Girl" may not have had quite the punch and zip of those shows it still caught the attention. In fact when Twinnie is on stage she demands your attention, especially on songs like "Bitch" which saw her eventually untangling the microphone lead from the stand so that she could prowl the stage.
Anyone doubting whether a UK artist should be sharing the stage with 2 US stars would have been left in no doubt after the next 2 songs, "Hollywood Gypsy", initially just Twinnie and an acoustic guitar at first, her life story in a song, before the band kick in at the second verse really shows her range of vocals, while for "Lie To Me" the big ballad, that got a multitude of phones waving in the air she was nothing short of stunning in a quite powerful display hitting the sustained high notes.
Always something of an enigma, one moment larger than life, the next truly humbled that people should buy her records, you cannot help but like any time spent with Twinnie. For the finale, a shortened ballad of version of Whitney Houston's "I Want To Dance With Somebody" led into the uptempo belter of "Better While I'm Drunk", her leather jacket went flying, and once again a stunning high kick was thrown in among some exuberant dancing that brought her set to a close.
Cassadee Pope must have known she was on fairly safe ground when the crowd started singing along immediately on "Take You Home". Using Twinnie's backing band, I found the acoustic versions suited the venue better and it was much better for hearing Cassadee's vocals. Mixing the set between her two albums, the piano intro to "I Wish I Could Break Your Heart" with it's snappily delivered chorus was so rapturously received that you could visibly see her mouth "Oh my gosh".
For the real power vocals, the current single "If My Heart Had A Heart" could not be beaten with the backing band also playing a major part with their contribution on backing vocals. This was billed as the "Next Women In Country" and if much of Cassadee's set was possibly more on the pop side of country there was no doubt when she sung "11" that she was a country star. That was followed with another song from the "Frame By Frame" album in "You Hear A Song" which saw Cassadee really hitting the big notes with some style.
A welcome return for both Logan and Twinnie saw all three perform a version of Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now" but not before the crowd sang "Happy Birthday" to Twinnie albeit a few hours early as it was not until the next day! There was almost a funky feel to "Good Times" and it certainly introduced a dance vibe to the evening. The final song of the main set saw an appearance from her current beau Sam Palladio, playing Chris Young's role on "Think Of You" and they did compliment each other very well.
The encores saw a real trip down memory lane with a return to her Hey Monday days with a solo version of "Candles" for which she recalled playing the same venue many years earlier.The band returned for "I've Been Good" which she revealed she had kept on hold for 5 years. The evening closed with "Wasting All These Tears" but the night was not over for Cassadee as she stayed to meet as many of her fans as possible in the sort of move that is likely to guarantee a packed house on her return.
A highly entertaining evening with each of the performers bringing a little something different to the party in what may well become an annual event. The future for each of them looks exceptionally promising.