Since the release of her album Hero in 2016, Maren Morris has rapidly been winning fans in both sides of the Atlantic for her soulful country-pop. After an assured and confident main stage debut at C2C earlier this year, Maren is now on her first headlining tour in the UK, including a sold-out show at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire.
Maren kicked off her set with Sugar, the opening track from her album Hero. It’s a slinky song which really highlights the smoky, slightly husky side of Maren’s voice and got a huge reaction from the audience. She then moved into Just Another Thing which gave her the chance to show off some impressive vocal runs towards the end.
Throughout the set Maren mixed in tracks from Hero with a couple of covers, including her poppy take on Ke$ha’s Hymn and a stunning version of Bonnie Raitt’s Angel From Montgomery. The stripped-back arrangement let her bluesy vocals really stand out and she hit some impressively huge notes. It had a little bit of a Jackson 5 vibe and now I really want her to cover Who’s Loving You (maybe one for the next tour?).
Other standout moments from the night included the sassy low-down groove of new single Flavour, the funky vibe of Company You Keep, uptempo fan favourite 80s Mercedes and the summery reggae-influenced Rich. The crowd were word-perfect on every song and Maren regularly broke off to thank them for supporting her to get to this point and tell stories about being on tour. It was clear she was awed by the response and she was definitely feeding off the crowd’s enthusiasm.
However I felt the moments where Maren particularly shone were the ballads, such as I Could Use A Love Song and the yearning Once, where she showed off the emotion and power in her voice. She also brought her opening act (and fiancé) Ryan Hurd out to duet with her on the introspective and bittersweet I Wish I Was, and their voices blended really nicely together.
Maren closed her set with her signature song My Church. It got the biggest audience reaction of the night, with everyone singing at the top of their lungs, and showed off the richness of her voice. She then moved into the defiant yet soulful Second Wind, mashed up with Beyoncé’s Halo, which allowed her vocals to soar and had the crowd swaying along.
Finally, Maren took to the stage alone with her guitar to perform Dear Hate, a song she wrote with Vince Gill. In her introduction she spoke very emotionally about the Route 91 festival shooting in Las Vegas and releasing the song in response to that. Her sweet, clear yet sad vocal really stood out against the delicate, gentle melody and the audience seemed incredibly moved by it, listening in absolute silence before breaking out into thunderous applause.
Overall I was completely wowed by Maren’s performance. She delivered a tight set with excellent vocals throughout, balancing uptempo numbers with slower songs and showing off the pop and soul influences to her music as well as country. She’s already said that she’s planning to come back to the UK and personally I can’t wait to see her again!
Set list: 1. Sugar 2. Just Another Thing 3. How It’s Done 4. Angel From Montgomery (Bonnie Raitt cover) 5. I Could Use A Love Song 6. Flavour 7. I Wish I Was (with Ryan Hurd) 8. Company You Keep 9. Once 10. 80s Mercedes 11. Rich 12. Hymn (Ke$ha cover) 13. My Church 14. Second Wind/Halo (Beyoncé cover) 15. Dear Hate Performance date: Wednesday 15th November 2017