Cover photo by Andy Webb
I had been following Midland for just under a year when they were announced for Country to Country
2018. For those that don’t know they are a neo-traditionalist country band almost as famous for their
vintage style and exuberant stage presence as their music. They took their name from Dwight Yoakam’s
song Fair to Midland.
To say I was ecstatic to see them would have been a massive understatement! My happiness went up a
notch once they announced a gig in Amsterdam the week leading up to C2C and my joy was unconfined
when they announced a gig at the Omeara on the Monday after C2C.
By now everyone knows and have probably seen Midland play, but in March they were still relatively
unknown to the UK. I had done a pretty good job promoting them in our C2C Attendees Facebook page
and on social media.
I persuaded my best gig buddies to come with me to Amsterdam and so on the 5 th of March, Jacquie, Joan
and I hot footed it to Amsterdam ready to see my ‘Gator Boys’.
We stayed in the BackStage Hotel in Amsterdam (http://backstagehotel.com). It’s a great hotel and easy
access to the airport or Central Amsterdam and often used by musicians playing close by. We had a couple
of drinks with JD McPhersons’ band following their gig at The Melkweg.
Midland were paying at The Paradiso a multi space venue. We had arranged to meet Saskia (a friend from
the C2C Attendees Page) in the Hard Rock Café before the gig. We met Jimmy Gerards as well. The five of
us walked to the gig and joined the very long queue – we were quite surprised by the queue as they did
not look like your average country music fans. As we moved down the line we realised that we were in the
wrong line and these guys were going to see King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, a psychedelic rock band
from Australia! Could not have been further removed from country music, no wonder they didn’t look like
Country music fans! We swapped queues and went straight in to the small hall with a capacity of just 250.
Despite joining the wrong queue, we were at the front of the stage – by now the butterflies were flapping
There was no support, the guys came on stage (I must admit I nearly swooned!) going straight into Check
Cashin’ Country (they open every gig with this track). I was in the perfect position – front and centre.
They were everything I expected, and more. The band; Mark (lead vocals), Jess (lead guitar and
background vocals) and Cam (bass guitar and background vocals). The guys swagger across the stage and
are so tight with effortless three-part harmonies and Mark’s silky vocals. Excellent support was provided
by band members Robbie Crowell on drums and Luke Cutcheon on guitar.
In homage to recently departed Tom Petty they played American Girl, swiftly followed by Springsteen’s
Tougher than the Rest. They sang, played and worked their butts off on stage, not giving anything less
than a stellar performance. First gig was an outstanding success in my eyes.
I persuaded my friends to hang around the stage door after the gig and after a few minutes we were
rewarded as the band came out. Mark and Jess were happy to pose for photographs with us, they then
walked off into the Amsterdam night, and what a sight it was, Mark’s 6ft 3” increased by a few more inches
by his Stetson. Next stop London.
Midland went on to Berlin to play a show on Tuesday, then Wednesday an industry showcase in London,
where Cam made a grand entrance tripping up the steps to the small stage!
The band were then off to Dublin and Glasgow to play their respective C2C shows.
Sunday saw them back in London ready to open Sunday nights C2C. During the afternoon I kept a close
eye on my social media and had a great result. I heard that Mark was at The Hollywood Bowl so I hot
footed it over there telling my friends I’d see them there. I was in luck and managed to catch Mark,
resplendent in his Stetson, on his way out as my friends stared open mouthed! He kindly agreed to a
photo remarking that he remembered me from Amsterdam (not sure if that is a good or a bad thing?).
Later that night Midland took to the stage – ‘in their painted on suits and plugged in boots’. Apparently,
they had no warm up and just walked out on stage cold. They took to the stage like old hands and played
and sung their hearts out. They have such confidence on the stage strutting up and down. As they began
their number one single ‘Drinkin’ Problem’ they asked us to raise our phones once the chorus began.
During their gig in The Omeara the following night they remarked that the O2 gig has been their largest gig
to date and one that they would never forget. Mark mentioned that his Dad was there and had been so
proud. During C2C Midland announced a UK tour at the end of the year so I quickly bought tickets to
Brighton, Bristol and London.
So, to the final gig at the Omeara in London, a mixed use venue (bar, live music, exhibition space and
cantina) owned by Ben Lovett from Mumford and Sons. I had recently seen Anderson East play there and
was really impressed by the venue, great sound and a really cool vibe. I arrived in plenty of time with my
friend, Sam and we sat in the bar waiting for the doors to open. Whilst we were sitting there a lady from
Big Machine came over to me as asked if I would like to go and meet the band! I thought about it for less
than one second! We were also meeting with Danielle Bradberry.
Sam and I quickly looked up Danielle’s music and ‘chose’ our favourite songs in case she asked us. I chose
‘Red Wine and White Couch, Sam chose ‘Sway’. Once we got to the meet point there was another couple
of winners who said that they want to see Danielle but did not really know Midland’s music. So, we made
an agreement that they would have longer with Danielle and Sam and I would have longer with Midland (it
was a hardship!). We went up the stairs to meet the band. They were all pretty relaxed looking at their
phones, having a beer – pretty much what I expected. Mark looked up and said, ‘Is this the meet and
greet?’ I said, ‘Yes, sorry about that!’. They came over and we had a few photographs, they asked us about
our experience at C2C and who else we liked. I remarked that other than them my favourite was Lukas
Nelson. I (shamelessly) tapped Mark on the hip to ask him if he had a multiple number of identical
trousers as he wears the same pair quite a lot. He said no, just the one pair, but they make my ass look
Mark told us to not to forget to get our tickets for their return visit, to which I responded that I already had
my tickets. He asked if I was their number one fan? Ummm yes, I guess I am! We then went back down
stairs to the stage area, luckily, we were let in the door by the stage so weren’t at the back.
Danielle Bradbury started the evening playing for about thirty minutes playing tracks from her 2017 album
‘I Don’t Believe We’ve Met’. I didn’t know her music, but she chatted to the crowd, played confidently and
Midand then came on to the tiny stage, Mark minus his Stetson (think the stage wasn’t high enough for his
hat!). It was their last European gig and they looked relaxed and as if they were up for having a good time.
By now it was hot and sweaty in the venue and you could tell it was going to be a different experience to
the O2 set. As Mark said, “Every night’s a Saturday night when you’re in the band Midland’.
Once again, they started their set with ‘Check Cashin’ Country’ written by Jess. This was followed by ‘This
Old Heart” and their latest single ‘Burn Out’. They played most of their debut album and a few covers;
Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Alabama amongst others. They played until 11pm including
my favourites (not currently on an album); ‘The Gator Boys’ and ‘Fourteen Gears’. Cam switched up and
sang the lead for Mr Saturday Night (a new song for their sophomore album?) He then switched to the
drums for a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘I Shall Be Released’. At one point Mark pointed to my friend Catherine
(who was sporting a fine fake moustache) and invited her on stage. She did us proud dancing behind the
band with her fake moustache!
Towards the end of the evening Mark remarked that the O2 set had been their biggest gig and they would
never forget it but that tonight at The Omeara was their most fun gig. They loved that we knew all the
words to every song. They sounded great in Amsterdam, fantastic at the O2, but bloody amazing at The
Omeara. They can play small or large stages and still sound tight, sucking up the atmosphere from the hot,
sweaty crowd. At the end of the set Mark jumped off stage, ran through the crowd to do shots with the
crowd singing along to Sweet Caroline. Sadly, at this point I had to get the last train to go home having
been away at C2C since Thursday.
I don’t want to wish my life away, but I cannot wait for their return visit in November/December. They left
me with a full heart after one of the best weeks of my life.
P.S. I have just bought a ticket to their Glasgow show so that’s four shows in 10 days for me! Just praying
that they will play a gig in Nashville when I visit in September.