Beer, girls, good times and pick-up trucks feature strongly in Luke Combs’ material. Backed by a superb five-piece band, he took London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire by storm with his vocal-heavy country rock.
Combs has a winning formula, catchy songs, well-performed. The guy has a great voice – a big voice to match his stature. A larger than life character, he struts around the stage exuding warmth and charm.
“Let’s go for a beer” he’s saying. His relaxed approach draws you in and the music keeps you there. This is good time music, apart from the odd sad song of course, this is country after all.
Opening with Beer Never Broke My Heart his excellent band made up of Robert Williford and Tyler King on guitars, Kurt Ozan on guitar/dobro/pedal steel, Jake Sommers on drums, and Delaney Baker on bass set the tone for the set, taking you straight back to a bar in Birmingham, Alabama as in a subsequent track Honky Tonk Highway.
Beer soon makes another appearance in the country rock romp Beer Can “If you’ve worked your ass off all week and paid good money to come here, this one’s for you.”
The classic country rock ballad One Number Away, one of several hits from his album, was greeted with rapturous applause.
Now Combs is now playing larger venues than bars. He recounts when he was playing chicken-wing restaurants on his own and was asked to turn down the volume so the punters could hear their conversations. Midway through the set he took a solo number, the title track of his debut album, This One’s For You. This time nobody was telling him to turn the volume down and almost 2000 people were singing along with him.
To accentuate the beer theme a bottle of whiskey appeared on stage and the band members took a swig before breaking into a very country Sheriff If You Want To. Good time music. When It Rains It Pours continued the humourous theme with the line “I ain’t gotta see my ex-future mother-in-law anymore.”
She Got The Best Of Me and Hurricane closed the set. He dedicated Beautiful Crazy to his girlfriend and Let The Moonshine sent everyone home with a smile.
Big voice, big songs. Combs has a big future.
Words by Chaz Brooks