close
GigsReviews

Review: Miranda Lambert “Highway Vagabond” Live in the UK

IMG_2532

If you had asked me a few years ago who I would love to see play a show in the UK, I would have said Miranda Lambert. I also would have told you it would never happen. At the time Miranda Lambert was and still is one of, if not the biggest female artist in Country music today and at the top of her game in the United States. When it was announced in late 2015 that she would be a headliner for Country2Country in 2016, I for one was over the moon. Fast forward to late 2016 and a UK tour announcement was like all our Christmas’s came at once. Tickets purchased for Glasgow and London the countdown commenced.

I’m sure by now most people have heard about Glasgow and encore-gate. For years I have been told the Glasgow crowd are one of the best and I was excited to finally experience that for myself. However, a number of factors left me feeling a little disappointed. The show itself seemed to be going well, but unfortunately the venue chosen was the wrong one. Security were beyond strict with people standing and dancing, which killed any kind of atmosphere that was being built between Miranda, her band and the crowd – something Miranda picked up on as she noted on a couple of occasions that she thought the crowd would’ve been rowdier.

I will give it to the Glaswegian crowd, they tried, they did but from the stage I’m not sure it could be seen that people in different sections were being told to sit by security while those upfront were able to sing and dance to their hearts content. Making her way through the well-rounded set list of old and new, it came to introducing the band to the audience. Everything was fine until Miranda got to the last band member, a lovely guy from Essex, England which prompted boos from some of the crowd that turned into cheers once Miranda asked the audience to show her band member some love. Gotta love that old England and Scotland history! *Insert eye roll here*

There have been a lot of comments made over the last week, those saying the boos were banter or panto but honestly regardless of this booing at a show is rude and it is not the time or place. My stance on that is if you want a panto, wait for Christmas and get yourself a ticket. Miranda and the band continued, finishing on a great performance of “White Liar” and then just like that Miranda said her goodbyes, the lights went up and the show was over. People stood and waited for an encore but as soon as the stage was left, crew were there disassembling equipment.

From fans who met Miranda after the show, including myself it was clear she was visibly upset and wasn’t aware of the England and Scotland ‘banter’ and didn’t know why people were booing. Whether this was the cause of the show finishing slightly earlier, we won’t know but sadly the misunderstanding and venue troubles took the shine away from what should’ve been a great night for both Miranda & co and the crowd.

A couple of days later it was time for London and honestly I was apprehensive. I thought Miranda would either not be up for it after Glasgow and the comments made by fans over the past few days on social media or it would be one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Thankfully, it was the latter. The whole vibe was different, whether the London crowd had heard about the drama and wanted to make up for it in a sense or whether that would’ve happened anyway who knows, but from the moment the pre-show music started the crowd were on their feet cheering, much to the elation of Miranda who appeared to be content and at ease on stage.

From the get go Miranda seemed to relish in the atmosphere at Hammersmith, saying quite early on mid song “now that’s what I’m talking about”. Starting the set with “Fastest Girl in Town” it was high energy, all guns blazing with everyone up on their feet, with people cheering and singing along happily.

I’ll be the first to admit that there were some tracks on Miranda’s latest album “The Weight of These Wings” that didn’t resonate with me that much, but after seeing them being performed live I have a new love and appreciation for them. If you’ve heard “We Should Be Friends” and “Pink Sunglasses” sang on the streets of London the last couple of days, chances are it was this girl here. These are tracks that are so more suited to a live show and inject fun between the more emotional songs like “Over You” and “Ugly Lights”.

A highlight was “Ugly Lights”, a song Miranda says was written after her divorce where she admittedly maybe drank a little bit too much while she was sad, but then she got happy again. This then went into a crowd favourite “Mama’s Broken Heart” which I’m not ashamed to admit at this point I almost lost my voice screeching along.

Once again it was time for the band introductions, which went a lot more smoothly than it had done days previous. With the crowd roaring loudly for the Essex Steel Guitar player – Spencer Cullum -Miranda told the crowd she’d been waiting six months to hear that. At this point, Miranda shared the spotlight with her backing singer Gwen Sebastian who currently has a single out called “Cadillac” which was co-written with Miranda. Before leaving the stage temporarily, Miranda told the crowd that Gwen was going to perform her new song and I for one love that even in her own show she gives  others a chance to shine.

If you haven’t heard of Gwen Sebastian, I highly recommend you go and check out her solo material. I’ve been to a lot of shows and I have never paid as much attention to the backing vocalist as I have Gwen, her stage presence is brilliant, she’s so fun to watch and puts on her own little show stood behind Miranda. Whether it’s dancing while she waits for her cues to do her part, or her general interaction with the rest of the band, you can’t not watch. The crowd listened intently as she performed “Cadillac”, her vocals soaring through an almost silent venue until they erupted with applause which appeared to really touch Gwen before Ms Lambert returned to the stage.

At this point, we got a lovely surprise in the form of Miranda’s boyfriend Anderson East who Miranda said had performed in Europe more than she has, so he was showing her the ropes. Performing “Getaway Driver” together, their voices harmonised perfectly and it was clear to see how happy and in love they are with each other, something that was not lost on the crowd. I’ve never seen Anderson perform before but enjoyed what I saw and will definitely check out his own material.

Miranda is known for big powerful songs, full of attitude and while they are crowd pleasers it’s the tracks “Over You”, “The House That Built Me”, “Tin Man” etc that really show off her vulnerable side that maybe isn’t shown as much with her badass persona. She commands a respect from the audience during these moments, that they are more than happy to give.

One of my favourite parts of the show was “Little Red Wagon”. Again not a favourite of mine from the “Platinum” album but it’s so fun and sassy when performed live, even more so with the change of lyrics to the cheeky “you only love me for my big sunglasses, and my Tony Lomas I got the hell out of Oklahoma”…take that as you will.

With another rambunctious performance of “White Liar” Miranda performed “Gunpowder and Lead” which while not her most successful song to date, it is absolutely a crowd favourite. Full of attitude andangst, it was an almost perfect end to an amazing show. However, the encore made it that much more special.

“Tin Man” is one of the best songs of Miranda Lambert’s career, it is raw, vulnerable and soul bearing and I’m so happy we got to see it being performed live in London. You could’ve heard a pin drop as the packed Hammersmith Apollo listened intently to one of the best in the business up on stage accompanied by just a guitar. I’ll be very surprised if it isn’t nominated, let alone wins Song of the Year at the CMA Awards!

 

Finishing with a cover of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with the help of her band members and road family, I left Hammersmith with sore feet, an almost lost voice and sore hands from cheering so much. Everything I want from a gig and more.

Set List:

  • Fastest Girl in Town
  • Kerosene
  • Heart Like Mine
  • Highway Vagabond
  • We Should Be Friends
  • Vice
  • Baggage Claim
  • Over You
  • All Kinds of Kinds
  • The House That Built Me
  • Pink Sunglasses
  • Ugly Lights
  • Mama’s Broken Heart
  • Cadillac [Gwen Sebastian]
  • Getaway Driver [with Anderson East]
  • Ain’t Living Long Like This [Rodney Crowell Cover]
  • Automatic
  • Little Red Wagon
  • White Liar
  • Gunpowder and Lead

Encore:

  • Tinman
  • Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For [U2 Cover]

A special thank you to Kevin Cottreau for allowing us to use photo’s and video taken by him in our review.

Samantha Stanley

The author Samantha Stanley

Leave a Response

X