Cam Unplugged, The Tabernacle London 2nd June 2017 – Lesley Hastings

I wasn’t actually intending to review tonight’s show but on the way home I felt I couldn’t let this magical evening pass by without giving it at least a short write up (mostly from memory!)…….after all, Cam is definitely one of the most all round rising talents of the contemporary country music scene in my opinion. London was very fortunate that she returned so soon after her C2C and Bush Hall shows this Spring to showcase her music at this fabulous venue, the sound and lighting throughout were perfect, and the all-seated show sold out in under 24hrs. The 250 or so present were treated to almost two hours of music and stories behind the songs “ if that’s cool with you guys?” Cam asked at the start, cue a huge cheer from the crowd!.  Joined on stage by two of her band members on guitar, banjo and backing vocals (Cam occasionally playing guitar too) her sunny disposition was matched by the giant model sunflowers that adorned the stage. Dressed simply in a yellow cropped top, white jeans and (almost infamous) yellow shoes she enthralled from start (My Mistake) to finish (Burning House) her vocals were truly impressive throughout and she had the audience hanging on to her every word when she was telling of the inspirations behind her writing, most of which were pretty amusing.

Apart from a couple, including a great version of Lori McKenna’s “Old Men, Young Women” which she said she had  “speeded up and made more fun than the dark version on Lori’s album” all the songs were Cam’s own compositions, many of course from her acclaimed debut album “Cam Untamed”.  “I could have sung a bunch of covers, but that would have been cheap” she said towards the end when thanking us for being so attentive even when she performed new and unfamiliar material. Indeed  there were some fantastic new songs in the mix, which bodes well for her next album including “ Manhunt” which was inspired by a news story about a prison break and which she told us she dreams of having Eric Church sing with her, and the upbeat “ Fireball Whiskey” which while not truly a new composition is as yet unrecorded…..she made us laugh telling how she pitched it to the whiskey company hoping for a sponsorship deal only to be told that they thought it “encouraged irresponsible drinking”! Here’s a live version from a while back, a bit shaky at the start but hang on in there!

Her album track “ Country Ain’t Never Been Pretty” was introduced by telling us of her time growing up in California on her grandparent’s ranch, her Grandpa would wake her up in the early morning by flicking cold water over her and off she’d go to help feed the horses, her hair at that time of day looking extra crazy like Gene Wilder’s….as far as she’s concerned she went on to say true country isn’t about ball gowns and looking perfect on the red carpet but about being dirty, working hard and not giving a shit what you look like

We also heard about her move to Nashville where she turned down a publishing deal and instead chose to gamble on herself as an artist despite being repeatedly told  “no one’s signing women” and, when pitching songs to radio stations that it’s “really hard for females”, sadly two facts that still ring true. Her song “Want It All” was born out of this unwillingness for her to compromise and her desire to have “no rocking chair regrets” .

Review written by Lesley Hastings

 

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