Thomas Rhett @ O2 Shepherds Bush Empire, London 12/11/2016

On a dreary misty rainy Saturday we headed into London to see Thomas Rhett. It was the 1st day that you really realised summer really was gone, autumn is in control & winter is nipping at its heels!!

We saw Thomas at C2C in March this year, his tour was announced immediately afterwards, in fact the tickets for Thomas went on sale on the same day as the Early Bird tickets for C2C 2017. My friend & I worked in tandem, I got the C2C tickets, she got the Thomas tickets. I enjoyed Thomas at C2C, but he was the 1st act on Friday, with Miranda Lambert being the headliner. I just wanted Miranda, I was like a 12 year old kid at their 1st concert – Is it Miranda yet? What time is Miranda on? Is Miranda next? Is it really going to be Miranda? When is Miranda playing? As a result I am ashamed to admit I do not recall much of Thomas’ set. I do know I was on my feet dancing – unlike for Dwight Yoakam who followed. For that I sat down & watched the light show provided the people in the 2 boxes opposite each other!!

About 2 weeks before the concert, my friend asked who the support was. I said dunno, I will check. Nothing, couldn’t find a thing. I thought that really odd. Then a couple of days before the concert I saw something on Twitter, the support was to be none other than Thomas’ father Rhett Akins. Now here is the thing, dad is Thomas Rhett Akins, son is Thomas Rhett Akins Jnr! Confused? I actually really like the way they are both famous & have the same name!!

I knew Rhett Akins was Thomas’ dad, but I hadn’t done much research (actually none) about who he was. When the Tweet came out that his dad was to be the support I did some more research. Discovered Rhett was big in his day, but was now a songwriter rather than a performer. Reading further at the list of songs he has written I was suddenly quite excited!untitled   

As the concert was on a Saturday, we headed into London early to make an afternoon of it. We got over to Shepherds Bush just after 7.00, only to discover the queue to get in was round the block. One of my friends suggested we went for a pint while the queue died down. My response? Yup, YOU can, I am queuing, doors are open, I don’t want to be stood right at the back of the venue, I had made that mistake for Kip Moore. It took us about 20 minutes to get in. We then multi tasked, the boys queued for the cloak room, I queued for beer. I got the shorter queue!!

I am glad to say we were ready & in position quite near the front when Rhett came on. I have to say, the back of my mind, I really didn’t believe it WAS going to be Rhett, I thought it was a hoax, but I was really rather excited to see him.

The lights dimmed, people started to cheer, then a voice came over the tannoy system, “Folks, who is excited to see Thomas Rhett tonight?” Rather obviously a huge cheer went up. “Well, tonight it is a family affair, please welcome Thomas’ father Rhett Akins”. This was greeted by a huge cheer!

Rhett walked on, with his guitar in hand, no band, just him. He started by saying this was his first time in London ever & it was a dream come true, he then started with That Ain’t My Truck, a song he wrote in 1994, he said now he writes for everyone in Nashville! He then proceeded to prove this with the rest of his set. The next track was When She Says Baby, recorded by Jason Aldean.

He then told the story that apparently, Rhett & Luke Bryan are both from Georgia and are good friends, cue the next song – Hunting Fishing Loving Every Day. When he finished he said he was going to call Luke and tell him to reception he had got when he sang that song. The crowd whooped & hollered, think they would have liked him to call Luke there & then!

Next up was song recorded by Dustin Lynch – Mind Reader, this was followed by Young and Crazy recorded by Frankie Ballard, & of course Frankie was only in London less than a month ago! By now, the crowd were putty in Rhett’s hands, or they would have been if his hands weren’t occupied by his guitar!

The wonderful thing about seeing a songwriter perform is the stories they tell & the next story was a blinder! Rhett said he wrote a song that once he had written, he decided it was too stupid to record, however somebody suggested an artist for him to send it to. Rhett said “You are right, he is the number one idiot, lets send it to him”. Without saying anything more Rhett started to sing HoneyBee which Blake Shelton released. Actually, Rhett did say Blake had recorded it, but I think my version is more fun!!

By this time the audience was defiantly behind Rhett, we were his, we were just lapping it up & singing along to every word! Rhett then went into a spiel about how he loved everything British, he said his boot was soggy as they had gone all over London sightseeing that day. Bless him, he listed off a load (a LOAD) of the attractions he had been to. I actually felt really sorry for him as the day before had been a lovely sunny day & guess what, the day after was as well, do you know Rhett … you need to come back & see us at our finest!!

Rhett told us he was a history buff & he loved EVERYTHING English, he said his favourite show was The Young Ones & he is a fan of everything English. The next song was not the highlight of the show at all though! He said that he thought the Rolling Stones were the first ever English country band, he then sang Dead Flowers. After first verse & chorus he stopped, there was very (British) polite applause. “You are not feeling this are you?” he said. He didn’t bother with the rest of the song, the advantage of it just being him & his guitar!

untitled3He then mentioned that just before the show someone on Twitter had requested his song She Said Yes, he said he has not played it for 15 years but he would try to see if he could remember it. He managed the first verse and the chorus! He then sang Kiss My Country Ass (which a very drunk American woman stood just behind us had been screaming for almost as soon as Rhett took to the stage!!). Rhett’s last story was of Thomas, when he 1st started out. He was playing lots of small venues and several times he doubted himself and he would ring & ask his dad if it was really what he should be doing. “Look at him now – sold out show in London”. This may well of got this biggest cheer of the evening so far – until he went into the next song without any preamble what so ever – Boys Round Here, Blake Shelton & the Pistol Annies & 1 of my personal favourite songs. The crowd just went crazy! It is not often the support act finishes and you are hoarse from screaming, shouting, yelling and singing at the top of your voice it was like having your very own personal jukebox singing all your favourites.

untitled2Rhett said several times during his set that he would like to come back, I hope the over whelming sensation he took home with him, is that we would like him to come back. Imagine a whole evening like that!

After what seemed like quite a long break, when people started to jostle for space with more & more people trying to get further down the front & us who were already in situ not prepared to yield, the lights finally dimmed again. The strains of the 1st song began & Thomas came on to Anthem. The crowd cheered & the dancing commenced!

Make Me Wanna was next, followed by Tangled Up. Thomas said he started song writing at the age of 19, look at him now, a sold-out show in London at the age of 26!

He said he wrote the next song for his wife & he had actually got her to agree to be in the video for it, it is also his next single, it was therefore no surprise when he went into Star Of the Show.

His next song The Day You Stop Looking Back wasn’t one written by Thomas, it was actually written by Jaren Johnston (Cadillac Three) & Luke Laird (founder of Creative Nation).

Thomas then told quite a sweet story, he said that at the recent CMA Award ceremony, he was sat right behind Garth Brooks, he couldn’t believe it. He wanted to tap Garth on the shoulder & say “Hey, did you know you are Garth Brooks?!” It is funny to think of a star getting star struck! A cover of Friends In Low Places followed this story & what a cover it was! It even contained the ‘mysterious 3rd verse’ that is only ever sung live!! It was slightly spoilt though when Thomas invited a member of the audience up to help him sing the chorus, he managed to get a guy called John from Minnesota! We were disappointed it wasn’t a British guy, we were astounded though when the guy actually did not even know the words & sang “Friends in LONELY places”!! After this Thomas said he was done trusting Americans – they lie!

Another cover – I Feel Good originally by Lunchmoney Lewis was next followed, by T-Shirt.

untitled4Thomas said that his Dad wrote the next song Goes Like This. He said C2C this year was his 1st time ever in London and he had been & still was, very nervous. He then asked if anyone in the audience was in college? A few people cheered, but certainly from where I was standing it was an older audience than that, myself included!! Thomas then sat on a stool He asked a few questions trying to gauge how old the audience were, but as he got to the older ages the audience started to clam up, when you are in your 20’s you are happy to whoop & cheer that you are in your 20’s, but when you get to 40’s, 50’s & older, you don’t want to give away that you are in that age bracket. The guy 2 rows infront of me was keeping very close lipped & up until that point he had been in full voice like the rest of us, he must have been in his late 60s if not older. Good on him, hope I am still down the front of concerts at that age!! Everyone found their voices again when he started a song he said he wrote while he was still in college – Beer With Jesus.

Thomas then called 2 of his band members up front with him & a kind of mini songwriters session took place, which was slightly odd! They sang a song they had written for Florida Georgia Line – Round Here. It then went slightly odd when he invited John Ryan on stage with him, saying John had written a lot of One Direction’s songs. To say this got a luke warm applause was an exaggeration, the song they sang didn’t really go down very well with the crowd, quite a few of us were looking at each other saying “One Direction? Really?” Think Thomas was a bit taken aback at the less than luke warm reception he received.

Fortunately the stools were then taken away & normal service was restored with another song written for Thomas’ wife Lauren, Die A Happy Man. During this song a couple of members of the audience held up a banner –

To say he loved it was an understatement. He said “I can keep that right?” It immediately got passed forward to him. Think it kinda put him off though as at the beginning of Get Me Some Of That he forgot the words momentarily!

Bruno Mars Uptown Funk was next followed by Crash and Burn. Thomas then left the stage. Feet started stamping & I was quite confident he was coming back, I am not generally too good at remembering what they haven’t yet sung, but this time I was quite confident 2 songs were missing from the set. After a very short space of time Thomas was back with Vacation, the heat had obviously got to him (& boy oh boy was it hot!) as he had taken his shirt off & just had his tee shirt on. Disappointingly this was actually his last song. We had no South Side!

This concert was a brilliant concert, they were a few issues with rowdy, loud & drunk audience members, certainly John from Minnesota had a very obnoxious friend by all accounts, but we were slightly removed from that, so we had a brilliant night, but we did leave the venue questioning why we had had One Direction & no South Side!! We were also surprised at the number of covers he sung, it did raise a question though that I am going to leave you with, if you sing a song that you wrote but another band recorded, is it a cover?

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