It was a long time coming but Miranda Lambert finally made her UK debut at C2C: Country to Country in 2016 where she headlined one of the three days. That performance came in the midst of her marriage breakdown and the performer seemed to be overcome with nerves. Fast forward 18 months and Lambert was back in the UK for her headline Highway Vagabond tour, which has been garnering a lot of buzz on social media. Last night Lambert and her band rolled into the Eventim Apollo Hammersmith in London for the final show of the run.
Opening her set with Fastest Girl in Town, Lambert was a little hampered by sound issues for the first few songs with her vocals largely undecipherable due to the loudness of her band. Undeterred Lambert pushed on like the professional she is and the sound eventually improved as Lambert launched into Highway Vagabond. I was beginning to get echoes of her C2C performance as Lambert didn’t seem to be interacting much with the crowd but after a few songs she really warmed up and seemed genuinely over-awed by the incredible reception she was getting.
Songs from her latest album The Weight of These Wings were peppered throughout the set with highlights including the quirky We Should Be Friends, the album’s lead single Vice and Ugly Lights, a song that reflects on a period where Lambert admits she drunk too much following her marriage split. The down and dirty bass of Pink Sunglasses was one of the many sing along moments during the evening and by the time it came around Lambert looked comfortable and happy on stage as she unleashed her feistier side.
The rest of the set comprised of songs from throughout Lambert’s extensive back catalogue with a couple of covers thrown in. Of course she sang the gorgeous The House That Built Me, still one of her finest songs, and the uptempo Mama’s Broken Heart. Little Red Wagon saw Lambert at her sassiest as she moved around the stage, grooved to the song’s infectious beat and had fun delivering the attitude-filled lyrics.
Midway through the set Lambert surprised the audience by bringing out her boyfriend, and fellow singer-songwriter, Anderson East. The two performed Getaway Driver, a song they wrote together for Lambert’s album, with East taking on lead vocals and Lambert contributing the harmonies. Lambert and East’s voices work well together and their chemistry is clear to see. It was a great moment and I was glad I was there to witness it.
Other highlights during the set included the inclusive All Kinds of Kinds, the punchy Kerosene, and a cover of Rodney Crowell’s I Ain’t Living Long Like This which showcased Lambert’s traditional Country roots. Lambert’s backing singer and friend Gwen Sebastian also got a chance to really show off her voice when she sang her new single Cadillac, a song she and Lambert wrote together.
For the encore Lambert returned for a solo rendition of Tin Man, arguably the best song on The Weight of These Wings and quite possible one of the best songs she’s ever written and recorded. The audience fell into silence as they listened to every heartbreaking word and it was at that moment that Lambert proved why she’s one of the leading artists in Country music right now. She’s the real deal with the ability to tell a story and connect with her audience. To be honest, it was pretty magical.
Lambert brought her 105-minute set to a close with a cover of U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, which incorporated vocals from many members of her band. East returned to the stage for the final moments and he smiled proudly as Lambert received a rapturous reception from the audience.
Until last night I was a little undecided on Miranda Lambert. Her C2C set in 2016 underwhelmed me but last night she was sensational. She seemed much more comfortable on stage and now she’s got a handle on UK audiences, she spent more time interacting and joking. Lambert is a fiercely talented singer-songwriter and last night she really did deliver her A game. With the reception she received, I don’t think it’ll be long before she’s back touring in the UK again and when she returns, I’ll be making a space in my diary to attend.
Set list: 1. Fastest Girl in Town 2. Kerosene 3. Heart Like Mine 4. Highway Vagabond 5. We Should Be Friends 6. Vice 7. Baggage Claim 8. Over You 9. All Kinds of Kinds 10. The House That Built Me 11. Pink Sunglasses 12. Ugly Lights 13. Mama’s Broken Heart 14. Cadillac (performed by Gwen Sebastian) 15. Getaway Driver (with Anderson East) 16. I Ain’t Living Long Like This (Rodney Crowell cover) 17. Automatic 18. Little Red Wagon 19. White Liar 20. Gunpowder & Lead 21. Tin Man 22. I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (U2 cover) Performance date: 23rd August 2017