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  • Writer's pictureCHRIS FARLIE

LIVE REVIEW: LAINEY WILSON - HARPER O'NEILL - THE FORUM


As ever the The Forum would prove to be something of a Tardis on the night, the queues for Lainey Wilson a good half hour before doors opened, were huge and seemingly never ending yet somehow everyone managed to get in and there was still room to breathe!


Harper O'Neill would be a quick returnee to the UK having previously been over supporting Ashley McBryde earlier in the year, so there is obviously a consensus that she might be the next big thing and it's easy to see why. Her brand of southern country soul even in the reduced format shown tonight seems a gap in the market just waiting to be tapped.


LAINEY WILSON - HARPER O'NEILL - THE FORUM

Taking to the stage wearing her trademark tinted glasses, flanked by tall guitarist Greg who would do his best to try to create the atmosphere of Harper's album, which with no horn section was no mean feat, Harper would duly entertain and establish herself as one to watch out for. She would open with "Dark Bar Daisy" which showed it' soulful roots while "No Longer Mine" had a lovely funky guitar sound and a sublime chorus. Harper's "Dark Bar Daisy" album is an undoubted gem and "Somebody" is perhaps it's brightest diamond and tonight she was still able to put across the warmth of the track.


It is rare in a support act that each song feels like you have known it a lifetime but such was the vibe generated by Harper, even on "Manufactured Feelings" a brand new song that you could not help but be charmed by her. Her short seven song set did nothing but raise her profile in absolutely the right way, whether the big chorus of "Guilty" or the rocking guitar sound of "You Don't Love Me" - Harper O'Neill excelled #TEAMw21 can't wait to see her with a full band.



It's been maybe 18 months since we last saw Lainey Wilson, and having seen her since her first arrival in the UK during Country Music Week, through blistering sets at All Bar One and the Indigo at C2C and to chatting to and seeing her at Long Road, the most immediately striking thing about her is how natural she looks as the leading lady. She glides around the stage, probably playing guitar on only about 50% of the material, she dances, she smiles, she engages with the audience in a totally effortless manner - if country music is looking for it's next superstar then look no further.


LAINEY WILSON - HARPER O'NEILL - THE FORUM

Lainey was supported by a very solid batch of musicians, that looked like they were really enjoying what they were playing and they did it well but such was the magnetism of Lainey that it was hard to take your eyes off her - I'd be surprised if anyone could name or describe a member of the band 24 hours later! They would take to the stage with the lights swirling like a grand production and kick into "Hold My Halo", Lainey would arrive shortly after, and would be holding the mic in her hand, as she would for much of the night. working every inch of the stage,


For the next number "Hillbilly Hippie" she would be on her knees right next to the front row. Lainey had a definite rapport with the crowd, referencing, her initial CMW trip, pointing out faces she remembered from then. Even later when she would hand out a free hat to a lucky member of the audience, she seemed genuinely concerned that it did not quite fit and ended up taking it back and handing out the very one that she had been wearing - this is not your typical performer by any means.


It was only on the fourth song that she would get to put on a guitar, for "WWDD". In a great set, the highlights came thick and fast. Harper O'Neill and her guitarist would return for "Watermelon Moonshine" - Lainey leading off with Harper taking the second verse although it was the audience singing throughout making the most noise.


LAINEY WILSON - HARPER O'NEILL - THE FORUM

After an a capella snippet of "Strawberry Wine", Lainey would vacate the stage while the band played "Ghost Riders In The Sky" but she was soon back for "Wildflowers and Wild Horses" conducting the audience, even throwing in a high kick!.


Donning her acoustic guitar, things would mellow for the balladry of "Weak End", her guitar played in a unique style with it held some way in front of her. The relaxed mood would carry on into the first half of "Atta Girl", the second half much rockier.


The intensity of the evening perhaps slightly stalled with the pair of songs "Those Boots" followed by the funk of "Grease" but it soon resumed with a storming "Rolling Stone" and a Four Non Blondes cover of "What's Up" which would see Lainey punching the air.




The main set would close with a truck based medley - "Wait In The truck / Heart Like a Truck"

A four song encore would commence solo with a Jelly Roll cover of "Save Me", the full band would return for "Never Say Never" followed by "Country's Cool Again".


The inevitable curtain closer was "Things A Man Oughta Know", and as it drew to an end, Lainey Wilson just stood their looking truly touched as she absorbed the ecstatic reaction. soaking it all in.


LAINEY WILSON - HARPER O'NEILL - THE FORUM

























An exemplary show building the sort of unbreakable bond with her UK audience that will guarantee packed houses for as long as she cares to visit.


PHOTO CREDIT: LAINEY WILSON | HAPER O'NEILL - FACEBOOK

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