Friday night at the Bullingdon was a big old country show, done in true Nashville style. We got a tassel-shaking warm-up from the band and were more than ready to holler when star of the show, Margo Price, bounced on stage.
If you don't know who Margo Price is (and I suspect you do judging by the fact the Bullingdon was sold out), she's one of the biggest country stars to emerge in 2016. Her debut solo album, Midwest Farmer's Daughter, came out in March under Jack White's Third Man Records label, and she's been soaring ever since.
For some reason, however, the Nashville elite still snub her crystal country sound. Not that this weighs too heavy on Margo's mind if 'This Town Gets Around' is anything to go by. It's pretty hard to misinterpret lyrics like, 'Well, as the saying goes it's not who you know, but it's who you blow that'll put you in the show.'
This wit really sets Margo Price apart. Her music follows a traditional, jaunty style, but her lyrics sharpen its edges. 'The Weekender', about her weekend in jail, for example, was an epic, energised school-of-hard knocks number that had us all raising a wry smile at life's cruelties.
The autobiographical 'Hands of Time', on the other hand, was a wrenching song telling of poverty, broken dreams and a lost son. It's was a plea for hope that came from having worked 'all the bad jobs' and still not getting ahead. Friday night wasn't country by rote – it was country by life.
Helping Margo sound a cut above was the quality of her band. You could argue that her lightening-fingered guitarist was the real star of the show. The energy in the packed room crackled as the twanging guitar and sliding lap steel played perfectly off each other, and what that man could do with his Telecaster was incredible.
To mix things up, Margo also treated us to Janis Joplin's 'Mercedes Benz' and Dolly's 'Jolene', in tribute to their recent shared birthday. She paid her respects to Merle Haggard and even recounted an unexpected story involving Patti Smith being stuck in traffic.
The only thing to dampen this great show was the crowd's lack of rowdy behaviour. Our 'respectfulness', as Margo termed it, was clearly not what the band were used to. And perhaps we would have got a little more were we more in the spirit. But that said, we still got plenty.