Kelsea Ballerini has a lot going on right now. A very public divorce, surprise new music that addresses that divorce directly, podcasts, rumors of new romances and a UK tour. It feels like a great time for her to be abroad in smaller, more intimate venues to get back to what she does best and it showed through every minute of this inspiring and empowering concert.
The opening act, Georgia Webster, could easily be the missing or secret little sister of the Ballerini family. She even looks a bit like a young Kelsea and her music carries that mix of trending pop and country vibes that remind you of Ballerini’s first album and artists like Taylor Swift. There’s also a hint of 90s rock to some of the songs, making you want to jump up and down like you’re at an Avril Lavigne show!
There is a confidence and joy about Georgia Webster that is contagious to watch. She loves her time on that stage right now and is clearly grateful for the opportunity as well. ‘Long Distance’ was all anthemic drums and loud, clear vocals. ‘Push and Pull’ breaks out into a true ’80s-tinged pop/rock chorus and ‘Twenties’ has definite Taylor Swift undertones, as does ‘Ex’s Best Friend’, but there’s a style and brand to those songs that they are only from Webster. She was able to tell the story behind why she plays with an ‘X’ in her hand before the ‘X’ and the big strong ending to that song was Rock Heaven, just like the guitar solo on ‘Not Sayin’. .
Georgia Webster is a much louder, rockier proposition live than in the studio and creates an engaging energy that is fun to watch. Many in the crowd knew the lyrics to his songs and he also made a lot of new friends. Definitely a rising star and one to watch out for in the coming weeks and months.
Taking the stage after the most perfect introduction song ever (Shania Twain’s ‘Man, I Feel Like A Woman’), Kelsea Ballerini was all grace, smiles and energy. A spoken introduction to ‘Subject to Change’ set the tone for the night, a night of empowerment, self-love, fun and passion. I’ve seen Kelsea before at C2C festival and last year in Nashville at CMAFest, but Kelsea 2023 is a different proposition. Older, wiser, calmer and with much more to share and say.
Ballerini is a born interpreter who interprets the lyrics of her songs with her body and her facial gestures. This draws you into the narrative of her songs and creates a sense of intimacy between the crowd and the artist. As is common when Nashville artists come to the UK and play smaller venues than ‘home’, Ballerini was impressed by the crowd reception, singing and engagement on every song. There was plenty of love in the Birmingham room last night and Ballerini licked and showered every moment. She wasn’t fuming either when she said she was her favorite show she’d played in a long time.
His older songs, like the debut album mix of ‘Love Me Like You Mean it’, ‘Dibs’ and ‘Yeah Boy’, were up a storm, but his newer songs were treated with just as much love and enthusiasm by this crowd. vociferous. A middle section of ‘If You Go Down,’ ‘Hole in the Bottle,’ and ‘You’re Drunk, Go Home,’ brought more country music to Birmingham than we’ve seen in a long time, but it was a double-hit on the stomach of the new song ‘Penthouse’, along with ‘Peter Pan’ which was the emotional core of the show.
Kelsea spoke at length, before ‘Penthouse,’ about her recent divorce from Morgan Evans and how she hoped to drop a few songs about it and put it behind her, but the fans just didn’t let that happen. He followed up with an impassioned performance, but that raw emotion still ran high for ‘Peter Pan’ and even in set-closing ‘I Guess They Call it Fallin’, which has also taken on new meaning as Ballerini enters a new chapter in the life of him
Kelsea talked about how some of her new songs have resonated more, post-divorce, in the encore before she played ‘What I Have’, prompting a lot of community singing, despite being a relatively new song. The cheeky double whammy finale to ‘Miss Me More’ and ‘Doin My Best’ was a masterstroke and Kelsea left the stage to enthusiastic applause and heartfelt cheers.
Something has changed with Kelsea Ballerini in the last year, but she later warned us that that could happen in her latest album title. Always a confident and accomplished performer, Ballerini is now even more open with her feelings and able to connect and resonate with her crowd on a deeper level. There is a power and passion that she had not seen before in her performances that creates a real bond between her and the audience and she has brought a different and more intimate feeling to many of her songs that should lift her up, in months. and years to come, at the highest level of country music artists.
Set list: 1. Subject to Change 2. The Little Things 3. Heartfirst 4. Love Me Like You Mean / Dibs / Yeah Boy 5. Love is a Cowboy / Cowboy Take Me Away 6. Half My Hometown 7. If You Come Down ( I’m Gonna Fall Too) 8. Hole in the Bottle 9. You’re Drunk Go Home 10. Homecoming Queen 11. This Feeling 12. Universe 13. Weather 14. Penthouse 15. Peter Pan 16. I Guess So they call Fallin Encore: 17. What I Have 18. Miss Me More 19. Muscle Memory 20. Do My Best Event: O2 Institute, Birmingham, UK Date: friday february 24