Maren Morris, O2 Kentish Town Forum, London live review

In the year Since releasing her first major label album in 2016, Maren Morris has become one of the biggest players in country music. With two more LPs under her belt – most recently 2022’s ‘Humble Quest’ – she’s also collaborated with Z on the smash hit ‘The Middle’ and as part of the Supergirl Supergroup with Brandi Carlile, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hembey, a unique way to blend country, pop and R&B sounds, as well as not being afraid to stand up and speak her mind on social issues. Now, after a short UK tour with The Chicks, she returned to London for her first headline show since 2019 last night when she played the Royal Albert Hall on Girl’s World Tour.

Arriving on the leafy stage just after 9pm, Morris with her four-piece band opened the show with ‘Circles Around This Town’, the lead single from ‘Humble Quest’. The crowd erupted in cheers from the first note and she gave a soft, laid-back song that told the story of her journey to success with her vocals of faith and individuality. Right outside the room the whole room was singing along and as Morris herself said, “The tone is set for the night… This is going to be great.”

Over the course of the next hour and 20 minutes, Morris promises, “We’re trying to cover as many bases as we can… hopefully all your favorites,” and the set strikes a nice balance across her three records. As it was the only album she hadn’t played in the UK yet, many songs came from ‘Humble Quest’, including the sweet, playful ‘I Can’t Love You Anymore’, which saw Morris spin the stage on a tambourine. Her gold sequin jacket caught the spotlight and the crowd applauded, before she sang ‘Detour’ with the band and delivered a dramatic and emotional rendition of ‘Nerve’, which showed the song’s 90s grunge influence. We’ve got a new acoustic song from her upcoming fourth album ‘Get The Hell Out’. Morris spoke very movingly about her struggles with self-esteem before her career and how the song came from wanting to change her mood, and it was a lush, uplifting number that was full of emotion and really uplifting, and also featured some great performances. Morris’s singing skills (“I gave my heart on paper plates” is a particularly strong line).

That said, there was plenty for fans of Morris’ previous work to enjoy. ’80s Mercedes’, with its a cappella intro, was an early highlight, while Morris showed her inner side on ‘I Wish I Was’ and ‘I Could Use A Love Song’, which saw her passionately discuss her love for UK crowds and her debut at C2C in 2016. Elsewhere, ‘GIRL’ and ‘Drunk Girls Don’t Cry’ provided huge singalong moments, her Z collaboration ‘The Middle’ had a big rockier feel, ‘RSVP’ had a slick, slinky feel and the raw ‘Once’ had a fantastic final note as well as some It featured amazing vocal runs. Although the standout for me was ‘All My Loved Ones’, where Morris’ husband Ryan Hurd made a strange appearance to cover TJ Osborne’s part, while Morris herself jammed with the bassist, both leaning back. At the same time! I loved her rendition of ‘Second Wind’ as the crowd waved along and her voice was absolutely booming, especially over the counter chorus.

After introducing ‘the funniest band I’ve ever heard’ on the tongue-in-cheek ‘Rich’, Morris closed her set with a warm and delicate rendition of ‘The Bones’ – what else? – ‘Church’ puts an impressive spin on the song’s opening, slowing down the pace and picking up the melody to show off the power and belt of her voice, before breaking into the chorus. As the crowd sang every word and roared with applause and cheers, the crowd left the Kentish Town Forum in full swing.

All in all, Maren Morris delivered another amazing performance, showcasing her vocal and singing abilities and bringing bags of positive energy and fun to the stage. It’s clear she loves playing for her UK fans – on stage, she said, “I’m definitely feeling the love tonight… I knew you were going to show up” and booed as she exited the venue to the crowd’s response. The feeling is definitely mutual. “If you keep showing up, I’ll be back,” she promises, and based on this scene, we have plenty of reasons to keep coming back! Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait another four years to see her again here across the pond – I’m hoping to headline C2C when her fourth album comes out…

Prepare list: 1. Circles Around This Town 2. I Can’t Love Anymore 3. 80’s Mercedes 4. 5. I Wish I Was A Girl 6. The Middle 7. Answer 8. Move 9. Drunk Girls Don’t Cry 10. I Could Use A Love Song 11. All People I Love (with Ryan Hurd) 12. Nerve 13. One Time 14. Get The Hell Out Of Here 15. Second Wind 16. Rich 17. Bones 18. My Church Performance Date: July 5, 2023

Maren Morris’ latest album ‘Humble Quest’ is out now on Sony Music Entertainment.

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