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.