Jordan Davis // Ashley Cooke // Damn Good Time World Tour – Live Review // The Ulster Hall // Belfast

It is early in the year but 2024 is going to be a BIG year for country music in Northern Ireland, C2C – Country To Country is being held here in Belfast for the very first time, normally south of the border at the 3Arena, Dublin, this year The SSE will host country musics finest exhibition outside of the US of A! So the huge country fan base here in Ireland north and south will descend upon the SSE on March 8th,9th and 10th in their droves.

Riding that wave, Jordan Davis and the beautiful Ashley Cooke are here in Belfast this evening to whet the appetites of the NI crowd with two sold-out shows at the infamous Ulster Hall.  The crowds can be spotted far and wide in the city, it’s unusual for the streets of Belfast to be packed with ladies and gents in full country regalia, cowboy boots, stetsons, and denim as far as the eye can see, it’s a good look and one the locals will have to get used to with the plethora of huge country artists descending on Belfast this coming year.

The Ulster Hall is packed with a fairly eclectic mix of people, young and old all gathered today to celebrate their love of good old-fashioned songwriting.

8 pm and the lights dim as Ashley’s band gets the party started, Ashley, joining from stage left to rapturous applause. Her golden locks glimmering in the spotlight and an infectious smile as wide as The Titanic Slipways tells you she’s delighted to be here in Ireland, thousands of miles away from home but amongst friends. Her easy-on-the-ear, melodic and addictive style of songwriting has the Ulster Hall crowd transfixed throughout her set, she orchestrates the Belfast crowd with ease having them sing along with “Back In The Saddle” as she beats them into submission having them sing chorus after chorus as they happily oblige.

Ashley’s charm shines through winning over the Northern Irish audience one by one, regardless of what she sings, ballad or uptempo track she delivers a magnetic performance that the Ulster Hall crowd will not forget in a hurry—closing off her set with her latest single “Your Place” about her shitty-ex which is currently riding high in the UK top ten right now! She must be doing something right!

With Big Loud / Back Blocks Music Country artist Ashley Cooke, it’s best to know what you’re getting into – because this emerging star is the definition of more than meets the eye. Still early in her journey, being herself has already served Cooke well, leading to over 200M global streams with chart climbing hits like “Never Til Now” with Brett Young, Ryman and Grand Ole Opry debuts, national TV appearances on ABC’s The Bachelorette and NBC’s TODAY, tours with Luke Bryan, Jordan Davis, Cole Swindell, Brett Young and more.  Hailing from Parkland, Fla. and moved by emotional hit makers like Taylor Swift, Rascal Flatts, Kelly Clarkson and more, Cooke embraces the energy of pop and depth of Country, writing her first song by age 11. Cooke moved to Nashville at 18 and attended the prestigious Belmont University – but unlike so many others, she did not study music. After entering the schools revered Country Showcase on a whim and winning, Cooke decided to pursue music for a year. When the pandemic had other plans, Cooke went to TikTok where she built a thriving fanbase, writing and sharing Country music on her own terms. And now, the next chapter begins with her debut album shot in the dark. Unfolding as if they were ripped from pages of her personal journal, Cooke’s sun-kissed blend of two-lane pop Country is on full display in the collection’s 24 tracks, inspired by true tales of love, heartbreak and all the moments in between. Fully capturing the essence of a daring twenty-something growing up, chasing her dreams and taking risks, Cooke infuses heartfelt lyrics, captivating melodies and raw relatability as she invites listeners to come along for the ride. The striking debut has already garnered Cooke praise from Billboard who named her the July 2023 Rookie of the Month, with additional praise pouring in from PeopleAmerican SongwriterThe Tennessean and more. Cooke went on to be named MusicRow’s 2023 Discovery Artist of the Year.

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Photography: Mark McGrogan 

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As a fervent devotee of country music, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of experiencing the raw emotion and captivating melodies of a live performance. And when the venue is as iconic as Belfast’s Ulster Hall, the anticipation reaches new heights. Last night, the acclaimed US country singer Jordan Davis graced the stage of this historic venue, delivering an unforgettable night of music that resonated deeply with his devoted fans.

I could feel the palpable excitement in the air when I stepped into the Ulster Hall. The atmosphere was electric, buzzing with anticipation for what promised to be an evening filled with soul-stirring tunes and heartfelt lyrics. As I made my way to the pit, I couldn’t help but admire the venue’s grandeur, its ornate architecture adding to the sense of occasion. The Ulster Hall is a very special venue in the heart of Belfast and regardless of gig, Country, Rock, Metal or Gospel, it’s presence always takes my breath away.

Multi-Platinum, CMA award-winning artist Jordan Davis kicked off his UK/European sold-out DAMN GOOD TIME headline tour tonight in Copenhagen early Feb, followed by dates across Norway, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the UK, including a performance at London’s iconic Eventim Apollo on 13th February, tonight he wraps up this eiropean leg with two sold out shows at one of Belfast’s favourite venues.

A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Jordan Davis released his second full-length album, Bluebird Days in February 2023. Produced by Paul DiGiovanni, the GOLD-certified album features 17 songs including his sixth career No. 1 hit– the CMA Song of the Year nominated song “Next Thing You Know”– as well as his double-platinum multi-week #1’s “What My World Spins Around” and “Buy Dirt” (feat. Luke Bryan), which won numerous accolades including CMA and NSAI Song of the Year and earned ACM, AMA, Billboard and iHeart Award nominations. Davis previously notched three consecutive No. 1 hits off of his Gold Certified album, Home State, including: “Singles You Up,” “Take It From Me,” and “Slow Dance In A Parking Lot.” In 2019, Davis was awarded Best New Country Artist at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, and he is a two-time nominee for ACM New Male Artist of the Year and was named Billboard’s Top New Country Artist of 2018. Davis has amassed more than 5 BILLION streams worldwide.

As the lights dimmed and the stage came to life, the crowd erupted into cheers as Jordan Davis took his place in the spotlight. Dressed to impress, he exuded an effortless charm and authenticity that immediately endeared him to the Belfast crowd, pacing left and right bursting with energy and no doubt feeling like a caged animal ready to hit that iconic stage, he hits the ground running “Damn Good Time’ and ‘Singles You Up’ before taking his trusty guitar in hand, he launched into his set with an infectious energy that swept through the hall.

From upbeat anthems to tender ballads, Davis showcased the full range of his musical prowess, each song resonating with its unique blend of emotion and storytelling. Whether he was belting out chart-topping hits like “Singles You Up” and “Next Thing You KNow” or delivering heartfelt renditions of deeper cuts, his powerful vocals and impeccable musicianship held the audience captive from start to finish.

But it wasn’t just Davis’s performance that made the night so special – the sense of camaraderie and shared love for country music permeated the venue. As strangers became friends, united by their passion for the genre, the Ulster Hall felt like a home away from home for country music lovers like myself. There’s something truly magical about being surrounded by fellow enthusiasts, all brought together by the universal language of music. The crowd as far as the eye can see singing their hearts out along with Davis and his stellar band of musicians, Country Music still contains that magic of the best of the best on stage creating the most magical sonic cinescape that you cant help but lose yourself in for an one beautiful evening.

As the final notes faded away and Davis bid farewell to the crowd, you couldn’t help but feel a sense of gratitude for having been a part of such a memorable evening. From the soulful sounds of Jordan Davis and the beautiful Ashley Cooke, to the vibrant energy of the Ulster Hall itself, it was an experience that will stay with me long after the lights have dimmed and the echoes have faded. For country music lovers in Belfast and beyond, it was a night to remember. The appetite for C2C just a few weeks away, well that will really be something very special indeed.

Watch out for Jordan as in addition to his 2024 headlining run, he will also serve as direct support on Luke Combs’ Stadium tour dates.

Jordan’s Latest Album ‘Bluebird Days’ Featuring Current Single ‘Tucson Too Late’ Available Now

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Photography: Mark McGrogan 

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