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ABC Nashville Tour – Bristol UK Review

What was set to be a bittersweet, farewell tour – turned into an evening of celebration, pride and unity!

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After the UK leg of the Nashville tour went on sale and sold out – It was sadly announced that ABC were not going to renew Nashville for season 5. With fans all over the world feeling heartbroken and distressed, especially after the season four cliffhanger ( which I won’t ruin – as has not been aired in the UK yet) it caused such an uproar that fans, cast and crew took to twitter with the hashtag #BringbackNashville and after a astounding number of hashtag shares, it was announced that CMT were to pick up the show for season five – phew!

I was looking forward to the Bristol show of the Nashville tour as it was, but going in knowing the show was still to be – I didn’t have to feel sad about the night being the end of such a great show and community.

It was a sunny day in Bristol for the Nashville tour when I arrived in more than good time. Fans were scattered all around Colston Hall wearing Nashville T-shirts of all varieties, a lot of them either being The BlueBird Café T-Shirts or Deacon ones.

When it came to doors opening, the bar was filled with excited Nashville fans, and not many that I recognised, which is strange for anything Country Music as we are all, always in the same place at the same time, but that just goes to show the amount of people the show has reached and that the fan base was not just full of Country Music fans.

Colston Hall in Bristol is a lovely venue, it holds various rooms within a large building and The Nashville Tour took place in the main room. All seated, my friend and I had secured front row seats and were raring to go.

No support act – the show started promptly at 19.40. The set up of the stage was a full band and two microphones at the front, which indicated the artists would come on stage separately, rather than all together.

On first was Chris Carmack who portrays the role of Will Lexington on the show. The audience gave a loud cheer as he came on stage with his guitar. All cheery and excitable, he went straight into singing What If I Was Willing from Season 2. The audience knew every word which seemed to surprise Chris.

Next up was our own Sam Palladio, ever the charmer and still so very humble, it is almost like he feels he should not be up there. Praising his ‘American’ friends and clearly forgetting Clare is Australian, he tells the audience how happy he is to play on his own soil and that they finally brought the tour to the UK. Sam’ first song was Matthew Perryman JonesCan’t Get It Right from season 2.

Clare Bowen graced the stage next in a very stylish white sequinned top with a flowing white skirt and no shoes. I was particularly intrigued to see her as am not a huge fan of her character in the show (Scarlett), however, after a quirky and goofy introduction of herself – I warmed to her almost instantly as she was like a little fairy off in her own world and very mesmerising. Clare was joined on stage by her fiancee Brandon Young who she met in Nashville and tells the audience he is one of two great things to happen to her in that town. Clare sang Longer as her first song with Brandon as a duet. Brandon has a lovely voice, and I would be interested to hear his own material.

Before leaving the stage, Clare addresses the crowd saying how she will not keep them any longer as knows who they are waiting for….of course, this was Mr Deacon Claybourne himself – Charles Esten. Running on to the stage with a massive warming smile, the audience all stood up and went wild. The screams of women were overpowering, he was undoubtedly the most popular of the lot. Charles aka Chip – sang what is usually a duet with Connie Britton who plays Rayna Jaymes on the show – No One Will Ever Love You from Season one. This was the song they played in The BlueBird Café and Chip states how this is the song that started it all, all the lost love between the two characters came pouring back after this one moment.

The next section of the show brought us two songs per singer. One Nashville song and one original. I have to say, I was grateful for original material because it is nice to see what these guys can do beyond their roles. People forget that they are musicians as well as actors and that their talent goes way beyond the show. Chris Carmack has an EP out already titled Pieces Of You and he performed the title track to that EP.

Sam Palladio has always had great original material when I have seen him so was not surprised to enjoy his track Headed For The Fire. I don’t think that Sam actually realises how good he is, again, he praises his co stars but he is just as good as they are if not better. The Nashville song in this segment was Count On Me.

Clare Bowen’s original song My Song was very powerful, fun and uplifting. Before singing she explains how as a child her mum used to jokingly tell her that she was weird. Chris Carmack comes on stage to join her, playing, to everyones surprise, the Saxophone. Chris is clearly a multi- talented man. Clare bounced around the stage during this song having the time of her life. It was such a loud and wonderful tune and really showed off her vocal range. Her quirkiness reminds me a bit of Bjork, with her mad but wonderful stage presence.

Charles came back to the stage singing Nashville song Like New followed by original song So I Cry. Having seen Charles Esten recently at Country 2 Country festival in London, I have to say that his performance on this night was of a much higher standard, I am assuming it is because he was with his Nashville family and playing to an audience who were all there for him rather than the Songwriters Series at C2C where he was in the round with some very well established, respected and highly talented songwriters.

We then had an intermission, which was a nice change.

The segment after the Intermission was a mixture of original material, Nashville material and collaborations.

Chris came on stage and said how he used to play Blues bars in LA and had a wonderful mentor who sadly passed just as he moved to Nashville to begin filming. He dedicated and performed a song just for him, which was very moving and very soulful. Chris definitely exceeded my expectations throughout the evening.

Sam came on to sing original songs She Dances and Wake Me Up In NashvilleWake Me Up In Nashville will always be a favourite of mine, having seen it live a few times, I was not disappointed. He spoke of how he brought his grandad out on stage for the Birmingham show when he performed this as the song is about his grandad.

Clare then joined Sam for Nashville favourite Fade Into You. Just like the show, their voices blend beautifully together and I felt very privileged to witness this first hand. Clare blew the audience away with Striking Matches song – When The Right One Comes Along. Having seen this song being performed by the songwriters themselves Sarah Zimmerman And Justin Davis, I assumed I wouldn’t like anyone else singing it, but Clare did a more then fantastic job, I would not say it was better but a different version, certainly more theatrical, as an actress, I guess that is expected. She sat on the steps as she sung and really looked into the audience members eyes.

Chip Esten and Clare went on to sing Hand To Hold, That’s Alright Mama and Cold Comfort, during these songs, well one of them but I cannot recall which, they both went into the audience, shaking hands, taking selfies and singing to audience, it was lovely!

As the night was drawing a close, we saw all the cast return to the stage to sing And Then We’re Gone with Sam Palladio on the drums. Feeling like something was missing when they left the stage, they all returned to fill that gap with fan favourite A Life That’s Good, probably the shows anthem in a way. This is such a wonderful song, written by the wonderful Ashley Monroe and Sarah Siskind. A life That’s Good was the perfect way to end the night and would have had the audience in floods of tears had the show not been renewed.

Overall, the night exceeded my expectations and I was moved and astonished by all the performances. My only criticism is that later in the week at the Dublin show, Jonathan Jackson (Avery) and Chaley Rose (Zoe) joined the tour, I wish we had them too and feel slightly disheartened but hey ho! The night was perfect despite that!

A massive shout out to the tour band too who are all exceptional musicians and made the night spectacular, especially during Clare Bowens original song. Chip introuduced the band and told us how he, Chip Esten is the voice behind Deacon but that the band leader that night, whose name I did not catch, so please tell me if you know, plays the guitar for Deacon Claybourne and is not in fact, Chip, playing the guitar on the show. He can play guitar, I guess just not as good as Deacon is meant to.

Let’s hope The Nashville Tour returns to the UK in the not too distant future, I for one, will most certainly be at the ready on my computer to purchase tickets.

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