The last time I saw Nathan Carter perform was in my hometown of Ballymena, in a local hotel known for its country music nights.
There was roughly only a couple of hundred people there and, on Friday night, I found myself about to watch the same man perform – but this time in a sold out SSE Arena, on his very first arena show. Whilst the Nathan Carter cult has been growing for some time, looking out at the crowd, it was clear that he had finally ‘made it’.
Stepping out on stage looking rather dapper Nathan started the night with ‘Two Doors Down‘, automatically getting the crowd cheering and dancing. With a reaction like that it was clear that it was going to be a great night. The lively pace continued by playing the popular ‘Good Time Girls‘ and the title track ‘Wanna Dance‘ from his new album.
After a lively opening, Nathan stops to chat to the audience like we were old friends. Playing Northern Ireland is nothing new to Nathan, playing in hotels up and down the country is how he made his name. However, playing to a sold out arena is somewhat different. This is not lost on him as he thanks the audience for their continued support.
Nathan Carter plays at Harvest Country Music Festival this year – click for info.
The tempo is then brought down as he dedicates the extremely beautiful and nostalgic ‘Liverpool‘ to his parents and those from his hometown. As the crowd sways and waves their phone lights in the air it gives us a chance to really hear just how much of a soulful voice Carter really has.
What struck me the most throughout the show was Nathan’s ability to show versatility throughout his performance. Moving onto the fast paced ‘Get Up‘ and the ever popular ‘Temple Bar’, he effortlessly moves into a stunning rendition of one of my favourite songs, ‘Caledonia‘.
A highlight for me was when Nathan came down into the crowd to find an audience member who had a question to ask. Yes you guessed right, there was a proposal! Nathan returned to the stage where a piano was waiting for him, and there was only one song that could be played after that. As the first few chords played out, my guess was right, the stunning ‘Good Morning Beautiful‘ was performed. The mix between the happy couple below me, the beautiful words of the song and Nathan’s grandparents slow dancing on the big screens made for an emotional three minutes!
It was at this point of the night where it became clear just how big a part his band plays in these shows. The instrumental side was absolutely fantastic. At many points throughout the night Nathan stepped out of the spotlight to showcase the array of talent from his band including bass, guitar, fiddle, tin whistle, harmonica and Nathan himself joining in with the accordion.
As the crowd dances and cheers, it is clear that they are loving every minute and the atmosphere is absolutely electric. After finishing the more rocky ‘Banks of Scotland‘, Nathan leaves the stage indicating that the show is over. He wasn’t fooling anybody though as ‘Wagon Wheel’ has yet to be played.
After a few minutes the band returned to the stage and were greeted with a loud cheer, getting louder when the main man himself returns and turning into a scream, when they burst into an electric performance of ‘Irish Rover‘.
Not one person was sitting down. Then it finally happened, the song that changed everything for Nathan Carter – ‘Wagon Wheel’. The dancing and cheering got more vigorous and louder ending the night on a complete high.
Country music is not something that is overly popular in a pop dominated industry and Irish country is even less so. However with two albums reaching number one in the Irish charts, Nathan Carter is the exception and the phenomenon within this genre. The whole show was a real experience showing that Carter and his band really know to put on a show.
Everyone left the arena buzzing talking about how great the night was which is exactly how it should be when you see an artist live. I loved every minute of the concert and urge everyone to go see a Nathan Carter concert. You won’t be disappointed.
Scroll through our photo gallery, by Bernie McAllister, below: