Country Music Week – Drake White, Ryan Kinder, Tenille Townes Live in London ****

Camden’s Koko hosted this quality triple bill as part of Country Music Week. Opening was Canadian Tenille Townes with a great solo spot, including a cracking cover of U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For. She received a positive reaction from the audience.

Next up was Alabaman Ryan Kinder, again solo. He continued the feelgood factor with a superb set and, like Townes, went down a storm with the receptive Koko crowd. Enthusiastic and with great vocals he is a real talent. Kinder brought on the violinist from Drake White’s band to accompany him on Stay and finished with Still Believe In Crazy Love.

Drake White bounced onto the Koko stage with his Big Fire band of four behind him, bassist, drummer and two guitarists, one of whom doubled on violin. For the next hour and three-quarters he proceeded to thrill with an exemplary performance of American country rock, with a couple of surprising covers thrown in.

He began with Heartbeat, one of six tracks from his album Spark, straight into Story and then the country boogie of Equator. By this time White was dancing and most in the audience were too.
Whiskey looms large in Alabama and consequently put in an appearance in Waitin’ On The Whiskey to Work, with a more blues-y feel and a slow groove. The crowd was treated to the new track Raised and it was good to have violin on a country rock song.

I love the blues, and we’re gonna hit you with some James Brown” introduced his take on I Feel Good. Another new song was the slower All Would Be Right With The World with all the band adding excellent harmonies.

White then took a couple of solo numbers, showcasing his excellent voice and accomplished guitar playing. At this point you could detect the soul in his voice, reminiscent of Ray Charles and Joe Cocker.

The band returned for Girl In Pieces and Livin’ The Dream. Makin’ Me Look Good Again had a stunning four-minute guitar intro and White matched this with awesome vocals. More country boogie followed with the audience at a frenzy by this stage and the Joe Cocker connection came to the fore when White brought back Ryan Kinder for a storming encore of With A Little Help From My Friends. Fortunately he had the good sense not to attempt the Joe Cocker scream.

This was a superb performance of sublime country rock, with soul and grit. White is justifiably on the bill of next year’s C2C so check him out if you can.

Words by Chaz Brooks

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