C2C 2023: Randall King - Town Square Stage
If there is one gripe you sometimes hear levelled against C2C it is that it is not "real" country - It would seem certainly that in 2023, outside the main arena the various stages covered the spectrum of the genre much better than in previous years.
This may well have been an exploratory trip for Randall King playing just solo with an acoustic guitar but he is undoubtedly going to be big in the UK going forward, just on this show alone in the Town Square.
Randall had #TEAMw21 on his side from the opening song "In The PIcture". As it opens it seems like any other country song with Randall reminiscing about a girl. It's like a movie close up and as the camera pulls back more and more gets revealed until we find out that the girl is a polaroid memory - and even better the title plays on the word picture by saying ""She Ain't In The PIcture Anymore". It was classic songwriting delivered in a deliciously deep timbre.
This was a set that was to fly by and each song felt like it had been a cherished favourite for years and Randall stole the show be being such a consumate performer. Take for example the second song "Tuggin' On My Heartstrings" which managed to be deliciously classic yet also came with a modern sensibility - even finding time to stop the show to highlight an important line to the men in the audience!
It was off to his 2018 debut for "Keep Her On The Line" which he introduced by asking the ladies of the audience "You worth fighing for?" to which he received a resounding "Yes" in reply.
Hailing from West Texas, Randall professed his love for Keith Whitely and he seemed a little uncertain if
the crowd would know "When You Say Nothing At All" having been assured that this was the case by someone in the US. In truth this has become a bit of a country standard in the UK so it was refreshing to hear a more considered, tender thoughtful version for a change with someone who clearly revered the soutrce material. It must also have come as a pleasant surprise for Randall when he dropped the sound of his vocal and guitar, to hear the volume at which it was sung back.
For the single "She Gone", Randall was to both fire off rapid fire lyrics and test the amount of sound that one acoustic guitar could generate with some strident guitar playing.
Going down so well, Randall took the opportunity to trail his full band return to the UK later in the year and it deserves to be a sell out all round. The gems just kept on coming "Mirror Mirror" during which Randall edged to the front of the stage to play a solo - he could also barely contain a broad smile at the crowd singing back to him.
It is hard to convey quite how excellent a set this was "You In A Honky Tonk" was super smooth as whiskey country while things closed out with "Hey Cowgirl" with the same style that had graced the whole performance.
The advice from #TEAMw21 is most definitely catch him on this next tour while he's still playing small venues - next time you see him at the O2 it may well be inside the arena on the main stage.