The Shires are currently riding the crest of the wave in the British country music scene, and their rising popularity seems unstoppable.

The band has been breaking all kinds of records; they were the first British country artist to sign to a Nashville record label. Their debut album Brave reached the Top 10 in the UK Official Album Chart and The Shires recently made their debut at the legendary Grand Ole Opry. It’s fair to say the future is bright for Bedford’s finest.

In recent times The Shires have become regular visitors to The Sage in Gateshead. Today they are closing out the final day of the SummerTyne Americana Festival in the prestigious main hall of the venue to a packed out audience. This time last year the band performed a show in the foyer, which shows how far they have come in a short space of time.

Taking to the stage to “Nashville Grey Skies” straight from the off they grab your attention. To tie in with the theme of the song the band made a remark about the North East building their own Nashville at the Sage Gateshead, much to their pleasing.

The Shires are sounding so tight with phenomenal vocal harmonies from Ben and Crissie. The multi-talented Ben pulls up a seat behind the keys as they take us through “Brave” and “State Lines,” the crowd hanging on every word. This room with built for bands like The Shires, the acoustics are simply incredible.

There is strong onstage chemistry between Ben and Crissie as they lead us through the beautiful ballad, “I Just Wanna Love You,” before stepping up the pace with good time song “Friday Night.” The Shires have well and truly won over the audience as the whole floor is up out of their seats and dancing.

Drummer Olly unleashes the beat and takes the band straight into the up-tempo number, “Jekkyl and Hyde.” Ben passes a remark about now they know where they sold all of their records, the crowd appear to know every word of every song.

Despite the attention The Shires have received from the U.S., their roots are still firmly embedded in the UK with songs like “Made In England” proving to be very popular. The crowd laugh as Crissie tells them of how they managed to get fish and chips in a song, this is contemporary country music at it’s best.

A mesmerizing rendition of “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac left the room breathless as Crissie unleashed her inner Stevie Nicks, the room so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The band also performed a tremendous rendition of “I Ain’t Leaving Without Your Love” by The Striking Matches.

The Shires close out their main set with “Tonight” and as they make their exit the crowd carry on singing the song for several minutes until they return to the stage. At this point, it is very obvious they own the room. The show is brought to its end with “Black and White” and a superb cover of “Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rodgers and Dolly Parton, from which they are rewarded with a standing ovation.

Tonight The Shires proved why the deserved to be top of the bill at such a prestigious festival, a bright future beckons indeed.

The Shires
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About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in north-east England. He has been shooting concerts for several years now, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK & Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. Adam considers himself fortunate enough to have shot at some of the most prestigious venues and music festivals around the UK, such as The O2 in London, the Glastonbury Festival, as well as the likes of Madison Square Garden in New York City. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print in Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. Adam is passionate about music and photography, which shows in his work. His taste in music is eclectic and appreciates a diverse selection of genres, from Miles Davis to Metallica, and everything in between. He also has a strong interest in new music, and is on the look out for the next big thing.