Photos by Kendall Wilson.
It's safe to say the UK's burgeoning country music fanbase have missed Thomas Rhett, with the ‘Die A Happy Man’ hitmaker's last C2C Festival appearance being way back in 2016.
When Rhett strolled out onto London's O2 Arena stage on Friday, March 10, the London crowd collectively released the disappointment of those seven Rhett-less years through a chorus of screams.
One of the many moments that sent the audience into a frenzy was when, as suspected, Rhett brought out One Direction star Niall Horan for a rendition of ‘Slow Hands’.
Having seen Thomas Rhett perform a handful of songs acoustically at the Big Machine showcase earlier in the week, he exuded a sense of humility and warmth.
Arguably the most impressive aspect of his O2 Arena performance was the way he maintained this intimacy and familiarity, and revelled in establishing a connection with the 20,000-strong audience.
He rattled through pop-infused hits from his illustrious repertoire, such as ‘Look What God Gave Her’, ‘It Goes Like This’, ‘Beer Can't Fix’ and ‘Unforgettable’, all of which had the crowd singing along.
Rhett flitted seamlessly between the rowdy, boyish energy needed for his party-starting anthem, and the more drawn-in, introspective gravitas that his ballads demanded.
Along with his classic hits, Rhett also introduced a suite of newer material into his setlist, with tracks such as ‘Slow Down Summer’, ‘Half Of Me’ and his current US single, ‘Angels’.
He introduced the latter with an emotional speech about how he'd been away from his wife and children for almost two weeks, and warned the London crowd that he might get emotional partway through it.
The man affectionately known as ‘TR’ also treated attendees to a performance of an unreleased song, ‘Feelin’ Country’, which fans are hoping will appear on his long-awaited follow-up to Country Again (Side A).
Even throughout the slower, downcast songs, there was a sense of genuine, unbridled excitement which seemed to fizzle throughout the crowd. Underpinning the majority of Rhett's music is a gratitude, contentment and love for his family, and this created a heartwarmingly joyful atmosphere in London's O2 Arena.
Let's just hope it doesn't take him another seven years before he makes the trip across The Pond once again.
Taken from Thomas Rhett's show at The O2 in London, UK on March 10th 2023
For more from C2C Festival 2023, see below: