Photos and Review by Clare Knight
11/11/14 Bush Hall, London
The UK is seeing a resurgence in the popularity in country music and it’s a new breed of music, no imitation of USA counterparts will be seen here. With Whispering Bob Harris being a prominent figure in the country music scene, we have seen shows like Country 2 Country at the O2 Arena along with easily accessible country music through BBC Radio 2. At the forefront of this flow of great country acts is The Shires, a British duo made of singer/songwriters Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle. We headed to a sold out show at Bush Hall in London to see the band play for the first time.
Support came from another talented country duo, Ward Thomas, this time a duo of sisters with nice country twangs and an obvious love for country music. This was part of the Homegrown Tour that has been travelling around the country playing to sold out audiences throughout. Not often do you see a venue fill out completely before the support act takes the stage, but that was the case at this venue, and no doubt others on the tour. People came to see country music, and country music they got.
Ward Thomas got the crowd pumped up with their catchy harmony laden songs and not to mention their cover of Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake It Off‘, in which they revealed they would be moving into rap music. Understandably that was met with boos of disapproval by the audience – a clear sign that this crowd loved their country music! Both bands mentioned that they had worked in Nashville, which is only natural for songwriting and recording in that scene.
After a quick changeover, The Shires took the stage to a very warm welcome. Their set consisted of intimate and emotive songs with lyrics that made you listen. But they were counter balanced by fun songs about drinking on a Friday night. You get the best of both world’s with this band. In amongst the singing along and dancing came very mellow moments such as when they spoke about playing at Silence in the Square in Trafalgar Square on the same day as the gig, which happened to be Remembrance Day. It was very poignant and they were met with applause when they started to play their song ‘Brave‘. Bush Hall hushed to silence for the whole song and erupted into applause afterwards.
Of course, great singalong songs like ‘Nashville Grey Skies‘ and ‘Tonight‘ went down the best of the night, possibly because they are their most well known songs, but maybe it’s just because they are so good that you can’t help but start singing along.
The Shires are great with a full band but just as great stripped back as just two voices and a guitar or piano. Their voices blend effortlessly yet shine on their own with their own styles coming through. With good banter between songs and a relaxed stage atmosphere it was easy to enjoy the gig.
It was clear that they already have a strong following judging by the size of the queue to meet them after the gig. You will definitely be hearing and seeing more of this duo that are making a noise with their proud British country music.
The Shires have a new EP out now called The Green Note EP. Make sure you grab yourself a copy.
Milky Tea Kid will be interviewing and doing an acoustic session with The Shires this month. Check back and follow so you don’t miss out!