Photos by Kendall Wilson.
Torn between either doing the show in her trainers or her bare stockinged feet, she went on to play one of the shows of her life.
If it felt like a turning point for the Lubbock, Texas-born singer and fiddle player back in 2017, she’s gone ten circles round and more since then to get to where she is now six years later.
Her latest album Take It Like A Man felt like a hurricane of fresh air blowing through the Americana landscape when it came out last year and the live show that’s been built on it has only strengthened her reputation as the undisputed queen of the genre; “Like a Dolly Parton for the pre-apocalypse… Americana finally has a pop icon it can be proud of,” as we wrote in our review of the album at the time.
Stripped back to just Amanda and her longtime guitarist Zach Setchfield for this afternoon’s set, it doesn’t take away from any of the sheer joy and power of her live shows.
Opening with an entirely a capella version of ‘Kudzu’ from her 2011 album Carrying Lightning, she stuns the packed BBC Radio 2 Stage into awed silence, before taking us on a whistle stop tour of her latest album with acoustic versions of ‘Don’t Be Alarmed’, ‘Take It Like a Man’ and ‘Hawk For The Dove’; managing to dazzle even herself with the fiddle solo on the latter.
Running short on time, due to self-admittedly over talking between songs - something she’d even warned herself against on her set lists with the word “DON’T TALK TOO MUCH’ written at the top – she had to choose between singing ‘Empty Cups’ and ‘Parking Lot Pirouette’; opting for the latter song from her 2018 album To The Sunset.
Closing the set with her version of the title track from The Highwomen album, she explained how the project had come about and how Jimmy Webb had given the re-write his blessing.
It was reminder of just how important Amanda Shires is to both Americana and country music: where she adds a much needed pop sensibility to americana, she does the opposite to country, bringing that same depth of songwriting and a sense of poetry to it that artists like John Prine, Emmylou Harris and Guy Clark always have.
If we learnt anything from this last weekend, it’s how vital it is that artists like Amanda Shires are still celebrated and included in C2C Festival.
The fact that this set was all anyone could talk about afterwards should ensure that next year’s festival takes the same (tiny) risks, and when she stunned the main arena into the same silence from the Spotlight stage later on that evening she cemented herself in C2C Festival folklore.
Taken from Amanda Shires' show at The Indigo O2 in London, UK on March 12th 2023
For more on C2C Festival 2023, see below: