Country legend Nathan Carter makes women swoon but he's still looking for love...
He's now a bona fide country legend who makes women swoon, but Nathan Carter is still looking for love, writes Claire McCormack
A pretty red velvet bra and a frilly lace thong were momentarily caught in the glare of the 'Super Trouper' spotlight as they landed delicately on stage.
Country music phenomenon Nathan Carter just couldn't contain the grin on his face. It was going to be a good night.
The 25 year-old had pressed all the right buttons among his older fans and he'd only been on stage for three songs.
Carter is king and his loyal subjects, teenagers, millennials, mums, dads grannies and grandads were in raptures. There was a fair smattering of kids there, too, who must have been puzzled as women, old enough to be their mam, started throwing underwear around like it was confetti.
The audience know all the words, they've got all the moves and they've travelled from all over the country - Galway, Donegal, Clare, Offaly and Leitrim - to see him perform at the Mullingar Park Hotel.
Couples of an older vintage are sitting between young love birds and middle-aged duos. Elderly ladies with walking sticks are queuing for drinks next to girls in short skirts and stilettos. Kids race by trying to reach the front row.
By the end of the show they'll be jiving in the aisles.
The charming entertainer, originally from Liverpool, has played a significant role in making country cool again.
But he says he never intended to be a star.
"I never wanted to be famous, I just wanted to be a musician and play in a band," he said.
"Now almost every show sells out, which I feel very lucky about. I hope I never take it for granted because I remember days when I was playing to 15 people," he told the Sunday Independent.
Although his parents weren't musicians, Mr Carter grew up in a home where records by country heavyweights, such as Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton, and national legends, such as Philomena Begley, Big Tom and Brendan Shine, were constantly on the turntable.
"I started singing when I was three, but my most vivid memory is trying to play the accordion to a videotape of The Dubliners when I was five," he said.
From then, he lusted after a career in showbusiness.
Every summer he visited his grandparents in Co Down, where his 'nan,' Ann McCoy, had a huge influence on his musical dreams.
When he turned 18, Mr Carter moved to Donegal and put a band on the road.
"It was hard work; not a lot of people showed up and very few young country stars were on the scene," he said.
But as his singles started to top the charts, a legion of loyal fans began to assemble.
And they've been growing ever since - with a strong emerging cohort of younger supporters.
"Without a doubt, more young people are at my concerts, especially over the last two years," he said.
When asked why more young people are enjoying country, he said it's because of the "easy-going style" of the genre.
"There is a special atmosphere attached to the gigs. It's a mixture of pop, rock, country and folk. Years ago, country music was very sad. Musicians mostly wrote about their wife dying or getting divorced. But now it's a lot happier and more upbeat," he said.
Since the recent success of The Country Music special on RTE's The Late Late Show, Mr Carter says mainstream media are "more open" to country.
"Dublin is like a whole different island, it's very into the latest music crazes. There wouldn't be a lot of country music. When I heard the massive figures that tuned in, I thought it was amazing," he said.
The Wagon Wheel singer will present a television show on RTE on December 30 featuring a host of Irish stars, including Mary Black.
He says an awards show, like the Country Music Awards in the US, would be very successful in Ireland.
Despite being showered with air kisses from adoring female fans, Mr Carter says he's still single and looking for love. He also revealed that he used to date fellow country star Lisa McHugh until their hectic schedules took centre stage.
"It's definitely the downfall of the business, So many musicians are divorced or separated. But when the right girl comes along I'll know," he said.