GIG REVIEW: Chris Young – Live At O2 Academy, Birmingham

It had been a while since we last had Chris Young in the UK. He set the O2 alight with his brilliant set at C2C back in 2017, and it was great to see him returning this Spring for his first headlining tour on our shores. We were lucky enough to see his show at the O2 Academy in Birmingham, with special guest Lindsay Ell, and thoroughly enjoyed it throughout. With that silky-smooth voice and his ever-growing repertoire of hits, Chris consistently delivers a top-drawer live show, and that’s exactly what he did for the packed-out Birmingham venue.

As mentioned above, Lindsay Ell kicked off the show and did a fabulous job at getting the crowd ready for the main event. She’s gearing up for the release of her second album (hopefully at some point this year), but her set-list consisted mainly of songs from ‘The Project’, which has been incredibly received from fans and critics alike. Songs like ‘Castle’, ‘Good’ and ‘Mint’ are always highlights live; full of infectious grooves and killer guitar riffs. I also loved her cover of John Mayer’s ‘Gravity’, which she performed totally by herself, and she stunned the room into silence. It’s moments like that which make you appreciate the sheer raw talent Lindsay has. She just needs that one big radio hit and it will be full steam ahead for her.

Chris Young took the stage with ‘Hangin’ On’ from his most recent ‘Losing Sleep’ album, followed by the timeless fan favourite ‘Getting You Home’. As far as introductions go, the ‘Getting You Home’ intro sparks an atmosphere better than most – there’s just something about that song that everybody loves! He rattled through numerous smash hits like ‘Lonely Eyes’, ‘Losing Sleep’ and the powerful singalong ‘Who I Am With You’; it’s easy to forget just how many big singles Chris has had over the years. It was hit after hit after hit.

A particular highlight was his performance of ‘The Man I Want To Be’ from his album of the same name in 2009, which was an unexpected choice but a very welcome one. Still one of Chris’ best and still sounds just as good now as it did all those years ago. It was great to hear ‘Neon’ too towards the end, triggered by a member of the crowd who had been calling for it all night! Modern country Chris is great, but you can’t beat the classics.

He also threw in a couple of covers along the way, too. The first, Prince’s ‘Kiss’, was performed by Chris’ keyboard player and the crowd lapped it up! We were then treated to some Garth with ‘Papa Loved Mama’, which looked like just as much fun for the guys on stage as it was for all of us in the crowd – a really fun, memorable moment.

Towards the end of the set, we had the likes of ‘Think Of You’ (I’m amazed Lindsay didn’t come on for the Cassadee parts!), ‘Sober Saturday Night’ and of course, ‘Tomorrow’, which was delivered flawlessly and is one of the best showcases for Chris’ brilliant natural vocal ability. A timeless ballad that Chris totally powers through with ease. These are the kind of songs long-term that he will be remembered for, and I hope we have more of that style on the next album that’s currently in the works.

Finishing with the rocky ‘Aw Naw’, Chris left the stage to a roar of appreciation from his adoring Birmingham fans. It’s safe to say the tour has been a success for him, and I’m sure it won’t be long until he returns for more of the same. I love when an artist seems genuinely taken aback by the response of the crowds over here, and that was certainly the case here. Come back soon Chris!

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan

Set List:

Hangin’ On
Gettin’ You Home
Lonely Eyes
Losing Sleep
Who I Am With You
I Can Take It From There
Raised On Country
I’m Comin’ Over
The Man I Want To Be
Voices
Kiss (Prince cover)
Sober Saturday Night
Think Of You
Papa Loved Mama (Garth Brooks cover)
Save Water, Drink Beer
Tomorrow
Neon
Aw Naw