The Shires – Online Concert via Stabal – Live Review

Literally every time I see The Shires live I am reminded of  just how good they are. Perhaps that’s because they get better and better each time but all I know is that I am never left disappointed!

During the pandemic I haven’t really watched any online shows, not due to lack of interest but due to lack of time! Well I made time for The Shires and I am so glad that I did!

The show was through Stabal, which is a platform for live music digitally. More info here. You can also still grab a 30 day pass here and those who bought a regular pass can still buy the bonus features by adding the 30 day pass to their basket and putting the code SHIRES in the coupon code box.

Professional filmed as if it was meant for a DVD or TV special, everything made it perfect; the production, the sound, the effects, the camera angles, (all other aspects I have forgotten to mention because I simply don’t know how it works behind the scenes ) and of course, the band and most importantly The Shires themselves.

From the get-go it was as if we were actually there! Ben and Crissie who make up The Shires have this ability to really make you feel like you matter and yes, even behind the screen. It’s as if The Shires are our friends in a way, the comfort of their live performances is aways so magical and this was not lost in the online performance. I would say that it even somewhat felt even more intimate than a show in person as the camera’s got up so close and were top quality. The banter that Ben and Crissie provide in between songs is always sweet, funny and as if it’s people you know personally up there just talking about their day and the story behind their songs.

Starting with Lightning Strikes from the most recent album Good Years, The Shires haven’t yet had an opportunity to play these new songs live due the pandemic so this was such a great way to kick things off with. Immediately you found yourself absorbed in the show and it wasn’t easy to be distracted by anything that watching from home would usually do such as, scrolling on your phone, getting up to do something, I was personally transfixed from the start.

Next into the song Echo, a song fans have experienced in person at a live show so emotions started to really kick in at this point. Has it really been this long since we have been to a concert? My goodness how we have missed The Shires.

Another track from Good Years About Last Night was next.

The talent of their songwriting never lacks but just improves and none of their music in general ever loses that magical feel to it so hearing a stripped back version of All Over Again from debut album Brave was simply beautiful!

Early fans will have a special place in their heart for I Just Wanna Love You. A song that had the most captivating moment at the early shows and realising in those moments that this duo were something very special and whom were going to go far, there must have definitely been some tears across the lounges from fans. It didn’t lose its emotive feel on screen, in fact as we got to be so close and because the sound quality was spot on the blended and individual vocals of Ben and Crissie were sublime and the song as a whole completely breathtaking.

Daddy’s Little Girl not only means so much to Crissie but also to fans. Crissie addressed the home audience saying how she is aware it means something to not just daughters but to fathers too. Beautifully sung as always, there are no flaws in Crissies voice and hearing her without the noise and distractions of an audience really showcased just how flawless those vocals are. The pedal steel guitar played in this song was stunning and gave us such strong country music vibes that we felt a little bit of Nashville in our homes.

We all love that moment in their live shows when they play My Universe. A song usually backed with big production, they played a stripped back version of this song as they did with most songs really, playing them as they were written which they don’t usually get to do. It shows how well written these songs are when they are stripped back, especially the big pop numbers. Sometimes when a song is heavily produced you don’t appreciate the words as much as you do when hearing it stripped back because you really hear every single word and the emotions in both Ben and Crissies voice. A good example of this is the song On The Day I Die. A song that sounds completely different on the album, this track played as it was written gave it a new meaning. A song about a celebration of life, this song now can be relatable to anyone as we have all missed so much and have appreciated what we have had and what we still have in our lives.

The band jazz things up a bit with the upbeat and fun-lovin’ River of Love. A great country bopping tune, you could just feel the audiences at home getting up from their couches and dancing away to it and the dancing undoubtedly continued during Guilty. A very US country pop styled tune, Guilty is such an amazing song live and is where the band also really shine as a collective. Who sang and danced? Who cried with happiness? We did!

Independence Day was great to hear and see live but Brave was probably one of the most emotional moments of the evening. One of the most if not THE most beautiful song they have ever written, the title track off their debut album will always hold a special place in fans hearts. Inspirational and moving, Brave is a song to just listen to without making a sound. It did make us miss that “you could hear a pin drop” moment in an actual live show as that acoustic and emotional moment can’t really be captured as well on screen but it was still magical and still breathtaking. For us, this is where Ben and Crissies vocals blend together in the most beautiful way. The power in both their voices is hard to explain but it’s perfection.

State Lines was next and is another moment in their live shows that is mesmerising but it’s always been Friday Night that has fans jumping up, holding their glasses up in the air and getting a little drunk not just on a Friday Night but any night this song is played. A song that is so much fun with such great audience participation, we still had fun at home and danced our socks off.

For me personally, Nashville Grey Skies will always remain my favourite song of theirs. The first song they released and the first song we heard from them, this song also means so much to UK country music fans as it was released at a time when Country music was just starting to really grow in the UK and for us, is how Building Our Own Nashville was created, can you guess why? This song is so so good and always feels magical in a live show. I loved hearing it on this online show without distractions, it means so much.

A Thousand Hallelujahs is another crowd pleaser with the audience throwing their hands up in the air singing Hallelujah! And if we did it at home, I am pretty sure everyone else did too. I felt as if we were actually there again.

Now if you have seen The Shires live then you know they usually end with the song Tonight which has the best audience participation of all their songs. Usually dividing the audience so Bens side can song the “whoas” and Crissie’ side the “You’re mine, I’m yours” and seeing who is the loudest, this could of course not be done without a present audience but lets face it, we all did it anyway. What is also so great about ending with this song is that when they leave the stage, the audience (who took it upon themselves to start this chant and is now a live show tradition) chant the tuneful whoas to get them back on stage. So not being able to do a traditional encore, they ended the show with Crazy Days off of Good Years. A song that again holds a new meaning since the pandemic as is a song about being away from home so much but since the pandemic it has meant being at home all the time and spending moments with loved ones more and in Ben’s and many other peoples cases, precious time with the family one may not have necessarily had with their lives being busy.

For regular ticket holders, this is where the show ended but if you had the 30 Day pass then you also had bonus content.

The bonus content, which was filmed on another day and without a band was a special acoustic moment with the just the two of them playing songs that they don’t really play live that much anymore. One being a fan favourite Black and White from the debut album Brave. This track was written before The Shires came to be and Ben wrote this with fellow UK country artist Twinnie way back when they were a duo before she decided to embark on a solo career. A gorgeous song, it is such a treat to hear this song again as we have missed it live a lot.

New Year was next which acoustically is so pretty and then they ended with Other Peoples Things. Written with Nina Nesbitt, this song was a great way to end the whole show on.

The whole concert, although seen from our screens was perfection! The band phenomenal, Stabal’s production, sound and filming magical and of course The Shires themselves exquisite!

Am I gushing too much? Yes but what can I say? 2020 and now 2021 we have not had it easy and this is exactly what most of us if not all of us needed – just to feel a little bit of normality again in our lives and to take us away from all the anxieties and stresses of the world for just an hour and a half. We needed this and if that means to gush all over it, then so be it! Music is a healer and dang this show certainly did that! As I said at the start, I had forgotten just how good The Shires are and listening to these songs in such a special way reminds me just how exceptional they are as not just performers but as songwriters. These songs, especially the ones from the album Brave are sensational and some of the best songs ever written.

Usually when watching a concert from home you don’t find (well I don’t) yourself singing along but I sang and I clapped and I actually felt the atmosphere of other fans doing the same. It was the perfect combination of a from your couch performance alone and being there with fans alike and having just the best time but being able to also enjoy it all in your Pyjamas and with the whole family including the kids!

This concert was the group therapy we all needed!

The bonus content also holds an interview with Ben and Crissie about their journey together, how they met, songwriting, performing, the pandemic and more.

Bring on their 2022 live tour in April/May. Tickets are selling incredibly fast so grab yours asap. Support is from US star Eric Paslay who is amazing! We cannot wait! Tickets and dates here

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