The main stage at The O2 is the reason most people come along to C2C Country To Country, for the big acts. They’re the people you don’t normally see in the UK. 2017 isn’t any different, with one headliner making their UK bow, and another returning after one previous appearance and a false start in 2016. Our recommendations for who you really should see are here.
Chris Young’s last UK tour included a highly successful show at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire in 2015. After also featuring at C2C in 2014 Young returns on the back of his highly successful fifth album I’m Coming Over. His winning charm will no doubt get the crowd on his side, and hits like ‘Aw Naw’, ‘Neon’ and ‘Lonely Eyes’ will ensure he gets the crowd rocking and dancing. And guys (or gals), look out for you better half swooning at the deep baritone that’s synonymous with the Tennessee native.
It’s a bit of a cheat to put headliners on a list of “must see” acts but really Brad Paisley is the single biggest act appearing in 2017. He’s a monster of a superstar. Even non-Country fans in the UK will know him, most likely due to his Radio 2 playlisted ‘The Mona Lisa’, from 2013’s Wheelhouse record. The West Virginian has been here before, in 2014, and was nearly back in the UK in 2016 before cancelling his show the day tickets went on sale. After that fiasco there’ll be plenty of people excited to see the avuncular cowboy hatted singer back on these shores. With a new record due soon, expect to hear some exclusive new tracks.
One of the great consistent acts in the country scene Marty Stuart is bringing his Fabulous Superlatives to the UK for the first time ever. After a string of hits in the US in the early 1990s Stuart settled into a routine of releasing a new record every couple of years. With his latest in the horizon - the wonderful Way Out West is released on the Friday (10th) before this show - there’ll be a mix of the classic Stuart, ‘Hillbilly Rock’, ‘Tempted’, and the like, and his new stuff. Most excitingly the Mississippi born singer will be accompanied by his truly excellent backing band, the Fabulous Superlatives. Before the more contemporary Zac Brown Band hit the stage Stuart show will be a mix of the classic and the modern.
Anyone that heard ‘My Church’ floating out of the Town Square at 2016’s C2C will not be surprised that the songs writer and singer, Maren Morris, has been promoted to the arena stage this year. The whole of 2016 was a massive moment for Morris who stepped out from the writers room (she’s written for the likes of Tim McGraw and Kelly Clarkson) and took over the country pop seen with the ubiquitous ‘... Church’ and ‘80’s Mercedes’. Her major label debut, Hero, is packed with singable lyrics (“Shit, I’d be rich / La la la la la la laaa”) and top notch melodies. Expect her to surprise a few uninitiated people.
Kicking off a fascinating Sunday lineup are two brothers. T.J and John Osborne have come from nowhere to hit the mainstage; this’ll be their debut UK performance. Brothers Osborne hit big in late 2015 with their now anthemic ‘Stay A Little Longer’ which hit number four on the Hot Country chart before their debut record landed at number three on the Hot Country album chart and they were nominated for two Grammys, and won a CMA award. Some 2016 then. The O2 can look forward to an extend guitar solo version of their biggest hit so far as well as the likes of ‘21 Summer’ and ‘Pawn Shop’. Get ready to rock your cowboy boots.
We should point out that days and times listed above at specifically for the London leg of the festival. If you're looking for Glasgow and Dublin days splits then check out the C2C website. If you haven't got tickets they are still available for all three days at all venues. Buy your day (or weekend) ticket from the Country To Country website.
Main image courtesy of Liam Simmons.