Ashley McBryde played a fabulous solo set at a packed London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire. With her quality and the audience reaction you’d be forgiven for thinking that she was headlining the show.
“Luke told me to take an hour” she beamed and didn’t take the smile of her face for the whole time. Uptempo and downtempo numbers blended perfectly into a balanced set.
Beginning with Rattlesnake Preacher she went for it. Her strong voice and personality carrying the song and grabbing the audience’s attention from the first note. Then Radioland, based on her upbringing in the Ozark mountains and how the local radio station fostered her love of music. Tracks included The Jacket, Livin’ Next To Leroy with echoes of Rickie Lee Jones, My Old Man and of course Girl Goin’ Nowhere.
Her connection with the audience, remember she was the support act, was incredible. Her stage presence and interaction top notch. Full of humour she apologised for having a head cold, but if she hadn’t have mentioned it you would not have known.
She had everyone in stitches recounting the story of how she was asked back to play for her high school reunion and asked to write a song for the occasion. The resulting Fat and Famous about one of her erstwhile classmates was hilarious and certainly paid back her high school bully.
McBryde had the confidence to play a fantastic version of Dolly Parton’s Jolene and included her version of Johnny Cash’s I’ve Been Everywhere which she originally learnt for a house concert for $20.
There was nobody in the bars whilst she was playing, as is often the case for a support, and many knew lots of her tunes. She even received a standing ovation at the end of her set from 90% of the balcony. It would be great to see her next time she’s back with her band.
Words by Chaz Brooks