Live Review: Little Big Town (Royal Albert Hall, London)

Ciara Headlines, Live Review

In terms of atmosphere, you can’t really get much better than the Royal Albert Hall. It certainly has a refined atmosphere, but that won’t stop country fans from raising the roof, as was evident at last Thursdays Little Big Town concert.

First on stage was Seth Ennis, who I was thrilled to see playing to such a large crowd given that it was only back in March of this year that he had been a relative unknown playing at Country 2 Country. He was given the opportunity to flex his musical muscles on stage as he veered between country pop songs like Buzz to sultry, almost R’n’B tracks like Fast Girl.

Between songs, he chatted happily with the crowd, talking about his experiences songwriting and how much he liked the UK. After his set, my friend commented about how nice a guy he seemed, something I can absolutely confirm as testament in an interview I did with the singer back at Country 2 Country, which you can read here.

As well as being a pleasant bloke, he’s clearly also a very talented songwriter, as was evident from a song written by Seth and country songwriting royalty Liz Rose, and cut by Tyler Farr – Our Town. Written in response to shootings in Dallas, this song has never been more relevant in light of the horrific Route 91 massacre at the weekend, and I think was exactly what us country fans needed to hear.

At one point, he asked the crowd to raise a hand if, before coming to the concert, they hadn’t heard of him, and I was surprised as as many as half of the concertgoers raised their hands. Needless to say, I bet many checked him up on iTunes as soon as they got home!

In response to this, I found myself wondering how I would describe Seth to those who hadn’t heard of him yet. The best way I decided was to describe him as country’s answer to Jesse McCartney or a 90s boy band with his sweet, catchy songs and boyish good looks. No doubt he’ll be the poster boy for every country loving teenage girl in a few years time.

It was good to see that he’d been working hard since his last trip over in March, and treated us to a number of new songs, including playful ballad Call Your Mama and ‘good vibes, good times’ new single Look At You as well as most tracks from his EP Mabelle, showing off his piano skills during Think And Drive.

He finished with his first single and most well known song to date – Woke Up In Nashville. Far from being a one hit wonder, Seth’s set showed that the only way for this talented star is up.

However, there was more excitement to come with the main event, and there was no doubt about what was coming next as the lights dimmed suddenly and a Chris Stapleton song blared through the speakers. Little Big Town took to the stage in fabulous outfits (well, the female members did), with Karen Fairchild in perhaps the worlds sparkliest boots, and Kimberly Schlappman sporting a flowing gown that puts my prom dress to shame.

They jumped straight in with Night On Our Side and without even being asked, those on the floor were already on their feet. In line with Seth Ennis being country’s answer to Jesse McCartney, seeing Little Big Town standing side by side on stage made me feel that they were undoubtedly our version of ABBA, down to the two blondes, two brunettes ratio. Like ABBA, you really can’t help but love LBT. Special mention goes to Kimberley who I think stole everyone’s hearts by greeting us with a big “LONDONNNNNNN! Oh my stars! We sure have brought the hillbillies to the Royal Palace tonight!” Cute or what.

A fantastic thing about watching Little Big Town perform is that each member of the band is given their own chance to shine, and I loved how the other members would often respectfully step back during others solos to allow them to take full focus. Throughout the night, each member proved their worth as fantastic singers and musicians in their own right, with Karen leading the way on Happy People, Kimberley on Beat Up Bible, Jimmy and his incredible solo on a cover of Alicia Key’s Fallin (which she definitely needs to hear), and Philip showing off mad guitar skills on Lost In California.

However, it’s clear that their true talent comes when they join together in perfect harmony in a way that no other band I know of has the ability to do. Almost every other note I made for each song in my review was ‘great harmony’ underlined twice, and this was proven on both upbeat songs like Front Porch Thing to slower songs like Don’t Die Young, Don’t Get Old.

Aside from great harmonies, another thing made clear was just how varied the bands discography is as they played tracks from almost all of their albums to date. They don’t stick to an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude to music, but mix things up, with their setlist drifting easily from ‘put a big smile on your face’ songs like Pontoon and Day Drinkin, to rocky Little White Church and Rollin’ to brilliant ballads like Sober and Better Man (both of which, if you’ve not heard LBT and would like an introduction, would be my songs of choice.) The latter, which the band have chosen to release as their latest UK single, got a great response, partly I’m sure because it was penned by Taylor Swift, but also because it was just brilliantly performed.

We were also treated to some great covers as well, including the aforementioned Fallin, a tribute to Don Williams in the form of Lord I Hope This Day Is Good and, and this came as a surprise, Wonderwall as you’ve never heard it before. Who says country can’t tackle other genres?

There wasn’t too much theatricality to their set – no pyrotechnics or fancy choreography, with only the occasional wind machine to create some great hairography. The most performance we got was the edgy red lights that glared up during Tornado which did nothing but add to the atmosphere. For the most part though, nothing else was needed. You certainly wouldn’t be going home bored anyway.

The party really picked up towards the end of the night in songs like Stay All Night and Save Your Sin, and it was clear I wasn’t the only one having a good time. Across from me in one of the boxes, a guy was having the time of his life dancing the night away, spinning and twirling to every song. If this was you, get in touch!

As we neared the end of the set, Karen mentioned that she had a surprise for us which had just been confirmed through her earpiece. I was certain that the band were going to bring Harry Styles on stage to join in on Girl Crush given that he had recently performed it at one of his concerts. Hey, if it was going to happen anywhere, it would be London, right? However, we were told instead that the band had just been confirmed as the headliners for Sunday night at C2C 2018, so I suppose that makes up for no Harry. And hey, I wasn’t far off as they closed the main part of the set with Girl Crush straight after!

As with all concerts, it’s not over til it’s over, and the band headed back on stage for a rocky encore of Turn the Lights On and everyone’s guilty pleasured Boondocks before taking a bow and exiting stage left. Even then, we know they’ll be back soon, so there’s something to look forward to! I’m sure I’m not the only one counting down the days.

We hope you enjoyed our review of Little Big Town and Seth Ennis! Be sure to stay tuned for more reviews and interviews by following us on Twitter @nashoverhere and @CiarasCountry – many more to come!


About the Author

Ciara

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Hi! I'm Ciara, long time country music fan, host of 'Ciara's Country' on Purple Radio, and blogger on a mission to bring country music to a wider audience in the UK by proving it's not all about trucks and banjos! I love all kinds of contemporary country, from big Nashville names to the latest UK artists – I'll listen to just about anything. You can normally find me reviewing and interviewing artists at any country music gigs I can find in London or scouring social media looking to find the next big thing!