Looking Back on C2C 2017

Last weekend I went – for the third consecutive year – to the C2C (Country 2 Country) festival at the O2 in London.

This was the 5th annual festival, which is getting bigger by the year. It is largely thanks to C2C that Country music in the UK is growing in popularity.

For a change, instead of doing my usual thing and going on the Saturday, I booked a Sunday ticket, to enjoy the final night.

I still went on the Saturday though – just not in to the main arena. Outside the arena there is plenty to do – I spent far too much on CDs and vinyl – and I enjoyed some of the pop-up stages, where some of the lesser known / up-and-coming artists perform.

The Radio 2 Country Stage seemed to be extremely popular with crowds of people queuing to get in; there simply wasn’t the space for everyone who wanted to, to enjoy The Shires.

On The Radio 2 stage I particularly enjoyed Temecula Road and the UK duo The Shires. After spending most of the early part of the afternoon there, I went for lunch before the doors opened to the main arena.

While C2C tickets aren’t exactly cheap, what you get for your money in the main arena is 4 concerts, with an interval between each – plus if you’re attending in London at the O2, you also get the ‘extra’ stuff: the pop-up stages, artist signings, so it actually works out as very good value for money. Just watch what you spend though!

Inside the arena, Brothers Osbourne kicked off the night before handing over to Drake White on the satellite stage (I think now known as the Yamaha Music Stage).

One of the big selling points of C2C is that over the years you can see artists progress from performing on the pop-up stages when they are relatively unknown to UK audiences, before making the transition to the main stage in the big arena. One such artist is Maren Morris, who was the second main stage act of the night. She was on the satellite stage last year and performed an acoustic version of My Church (which has now made it to daytime Radio 2 as part of their playlist). Having seen Drake White on the Radio 2 stage and on the satellite stage this year, I very much hope the same will happen to him in time for next year’s C2C!

The third main stage act was something rather special to see: Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives. With a hint of maybe ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, hints of your more traditional Johnny Cash style of country music, the guitar playing in his set was amazing. He must have changed guitars a million times in the hour-or-so he was on stage. He managed to get a great sounding guitar tone in each track he played.

Next, the final act from the satellite stage was Lucie Silvas. Wogan played her hit Breathe In on Radio 2 years ago (we must be talking about mid 2000s here, so over 10 years ago). Things have been relatively quiet in the years since, but she’s now ‘relaunching’ herself and in 2015 her first album in 9 years (Letters to Ghosts) was released.

Finally the headline act – and perhaps the reason I booked for Sunday instead of Saturday – the Zac Brown Band. There’s 8 of them in total! Of course they would save my favourite of their songs – Chicken Fried – to the end of the encore!

After having a fantastic weekend, there was little time for any rest though – still buzzing after the performance given by the Zac Brown Band, it was almost midnight by the time I returned to my hotel. I had under 5 hours of sleep before I was up and on the move again – for the 3 hour drive back to Gloucestershire for an 8am start at work. Leaving Bexley at 05:00 I arrived at the office at 2 minutes to 8. Brilliant timing (and actually I quite liked the long commute in to work)!

The post C2C Blues have just about gone now – but not before I managed to get hold of the Early Bird Tickets which went on sale on Friday morning and have already sold out! So I am pleased to say that – for the first time – in 2018 I will be attending all 3 days of the C2C festival in the main arena (I’ve not booked the Friday off work yet, but I’ve got a year to do that, so I’m not that bothered).

And because I can’t wait until 2018 to relive the festival, I’ll be looking back on the entire 2017 weekend in my radio show tomorrow night.

Tune in to Corinium Radio from 8pm when I’ll be playing a selection of artists who appeared at the 2017 C2C festival, alongisde some general favourites from my Country library.


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Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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