Over the last two years, Kelsea Ballerini has established herself as a true breakout star. Her Gold certified debut album The First Time has spawned three Platinum number one hits – Love Me Like You Mean It, Dibs and Peter Pan – as well as a fourth Top 3 smash with Yeah Boy. Back in May Ballerini made her UK debut at Under the Bridge, where she wowed fans with a show fit for an arena in the intimate venue. Recently Ballerini was announced as one of the main stage acts for C2C: Country to Country 2018 but before that rolls around in March, Ballerini was back in the UK this past week supporting Lady Antebellum on their You Look Good World Tour.
Following the excellent Brett Young on stage, Ballerini delivered a set that comprised of selections from The First Time and a preview of a handful of tracks from her upcoming second album Unapologetically. In many ways the show felt like a warm up for Ballerini’s C2C appearance and if the audience reaction was anything to go by, she’s going to be one of the highlights of the festival next year. Oozing confidence and stage presence, Ballerini worked the stage and the crowd like a seasoned pro as she launched into Love Me Like You Mean It.
With solid vocals and impressive production, especially for a support slot, Ballerini had a permanent smile on her face as the audience sang her words back to her. She has a down-to-earth and relatable quality when she’s performing and a unique knack of addressing the audience like they are among her closest friends. She followed up Love Me Like You Mean it with Roses, one of the first selections from Unapologetically, and it went down well with the crowd.
New song I Hate Love Songs was a highlight. Ballerini performed it at Under the Bridge earlier in the year and it sounded magnificent in the huge setting of The O2 Arena last night. Ballerini kneeled on the stage whilst performing it, creating a sense of intimacy with the crowd despite the size of the arena. Unapologetically, the title track from her new album, felt powerful and moving especially as Ballerini was backed by a video featuring her and her fiancé, fellow Country singer Morgan Evans.
For Stilettos Ballerini strapped on her guitar showcasing her abilities as a musician as well as a vocalist and songwriter. The uptempo XO, a fan favourite and recent UK single, came next before an acoustic mash-up that featured Ballerini’s takes on James Bay’s Let It Go, Justin Bieber’s Sorry and One Republic’s Apologize. Ballerini threaded the three together as she told a story of a break-up setting the scene for her monster hit Peter Pan.
Current US single Legends sounded anthemic in an arena setting and Ballerini announced that the song is being officially released here in the UK this week. It’s a change of pace for her and shows a maturity that The First Time didn’t have, understandably so as she wrote a lot of that record when she was very young. The final song of the set was the punchy uptempo Yeah Boy and it was the perfect end to a very enjoyable performance.
Ballerini has star quality written all over her and she certainly knows how to work an arena crowd. Her combination of pop and Country is a winning one and she has a knack for writing a catchy hook. The audience lapped up every song she performed last night and it’s safe to say many people left the show counting down the days until they see her again at C2C. Ballerini is more than able to live up to the hype around her and last night she proved once again why she has the potential to be a crossover star here in the UK.
Set list: 1. Love Me Like You Mean It 2. Roses 3. Dibs 4. I Hate Love Songs 5. Unapologetically 6. Stilettos 7. XO 8. Let It Go/Sorry/Apologize 9. Peter Pan 10. Legends 11. Yeah Boy Performance date: 10th October 2017