WORDS AND IMAGES BILLY SEAGRAVE
Oliver Anthony, the American country singer-songwriter, took to the stage at Albert Hall in Manchester, on a cold and miserable evening. The show is a complete sell-out, as the doors opened the audience headed for barrier to secure the best spots in the venue, to witness his raw and passionate voice. His unique and emotional rasp, shaped by personal battles, particularly those who understand the despair of living without hope. Anthony’s songs delve into pressing societal issues, addressing the nation’s wealth gap, suicide rates, high taxes, and the imbalance and abuse of power.
The atmosphere inside Albert Hall was electric. The venue, with its grand architecture and rich history, provided an intimate yet grand setting for Anthony and his music.
As the lights dimmed, Oliver Anthony stepped into the spotlight. His presence was magnetic, drawing everyone’s attention. As he came to the centre of the stage the crowd in Unison Collectively belted out a raucous, “Rich Men North of Richmond”, which brought a broad smile to our host’s face, who was genuinely appreciative of the welcome. So much so he told the audience that they usually play that at the end of the show, but tonight it looks like we begin and end with it. The band kicked off with a soulful intro, setting the tone for the evening. “I Gotta Get Sober”, follows and in-between songs he shared personal anecdotes inviting the crowd into his world.
The setlist featured a mix of Anthony’s hits and newer tracks. Although there are no specific song titles listed in the setlist, fans were treated to a blend of heart-wrenching ballads and foot-stomping anthems. His lyrics cut deep, touching on themes of love, loss, and resilience. Whether he was strumming his guitar or belting out powerful choruses, Oliver Anthony held the crowd in his hand.
One standout moment was when he performed “Ain’t Got A Dollar,” a haunting ballad. The raw emotion in his voice resonated with everyone.
The band’s tight musicianship and Anthony’s vocal prowess was imense. The sound reverberated through the historic hall, filling every nook and cranny. The lighting was constant added to the ambiance, casting shadows, and creating an intimate connection between artist and audience. Fans sang along, swaying to the music, and some even held up signs proclaiming their love
As the final notes of the encore faded away, the audience erupted. Oliver Anthony took a bow, his eyes reflecting gratitude and exhaustion. The concert had been a rollercoaster of emotions, leaving everyone moved and inspired.
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