CMA Songwriters Series at Bush Hall
In an over-capacity, stiflingly hot Bush Hall in Shepherds Bush, the audience sat and stood waiting for over half an hour for the CMA Songwriters Series to take the stage. The queue was out the door and around the block, even after all the seats were taken, so the wings and back of the room were full of people milling around – heating the room to boiling point.
The CMA Songwriters Series is a showcase of the songwriting talent from the American country music organisation Country Music Association. The selection chosen for the UK included country music writers Brett James (who penned Carrie Underwood’s number-one hit Jesus, Take the Wheel), Kristian Bush (vocalist for Sugarland) and Bob DiPiero, who has written 15 US number-one hits for artists such as Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and many more. They were joined by Chris Young, who has had many number-one singles and albums of his own.
When they finally took the stage amid whoops and cheers from the sea of country music fans, they sat on stools, picked up steel-string acoustic guitars and began to banter between one another in the way only songwriters can when asked to play their hits. At this point, a disappointing sound filled the music hall – the phrase “too many cooks spoil the broth” came to mind. Each musician attempted to outdo the others with impromptu solos and little licks that turned the otherwise pleasant and unassuming country music into a competitive acoustic disaster. The depth of the performance was also dispiriting: the sound of four guitars and one electric keyboard created too small a sound to give the songs the presence they needed.
This is the concert for you if your idea of a good evening is three hours in a visibly steaming room watching the writers behind the best country music of this generation crack jokes, interspersed with lacklustre performances of their hits. If not, you are probably better off finding a true country band performing the songs as they were meant to be heard – with a full backing band and without the hot air.
Photos: Helen Parish
For further information about the CMA Songwriters Series and future events visit here.