Photos by Kendall Wilson
It's been a huge few months for 49 Winchester, and if their weekend at C2C Festival is anything to go by, things are only gonna get wilder.
Hot off the announcement that they'll be joining Luke Combs throughout the European leg of his 2023 tour, the Virginia-hailing country rockers travelled across the pond for a packed out schedule of shows at London's O2 Arena.
The first set of the weekend - the full band's debut London appearance - kicked off at the Barrelhouse Stage on Saturday afternoon; the crowd just about beating their weariness from the previous night's partying with hair-of-the-dog drinks in hand. Though they might not have reciprocated 49's groove-laden tunes with the honky tonkin' energy they deserved, it goes without doubt that this matinee performance introduced the band with a real statement, and ensured the rest of the weekend's sets were in high demand.
C2C is always a multi-faceted experience, but often the best memories are made at the infamous, limited-access after parties. Packing on to the tiny Saloon stage late on Saturday night, the band performed a half-an-hour set to a far rowdier audience, running through all the best-loved bangers from 2022's critically acclaimed Fortune Favors the Bold. The crowd were lapping it up and the Holler team were boogyin' the night away, riling up a hearty demand for an encore.
Despite Saturday's brilliant sets, the Sunday show at the BBC Radio 2 Stage was the not-to-be-missed moment. With the venue filled out to capacity across standing and higher seated tiers (a winding queue outside still holding out hope to get in), the 49 dudes proved why they're garnering such consistent hype from fans, artists and the industry alike.
Isaac's voice offered effortless gritty soul, guiding hillbilly rockers and more reflective, mellow numbers with equal skill. Imagine the vocal love child of Luke Combs and Chris Stapleton and you'll be somewhere close. The band's instrumentation is also immaculate, with shredding guitar solos, wailing pedal steel and foot-stompin' bluesy keys (quite literally).
It's safe to say that 49 Winchester's debut London trip was a huge one. If there was anyone left in the city that didn't already know them (slow, we know), then boy will they now.
Bring on October, 49. London loves ya.
Taken from The BBC Radio 2 Stage at the Indigo in London's 02 Arena, UK on March 12th 2023.
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