Usually, more of a rock venue, The Bierkeller tonight welcomes American country singer Caitlin Koch to town as part of a small tour promoting her new EP I Am Caitlin.

First up is Worcester songstress April Allen. The young singer/songwriter has something different. She sings songs about relationships but does so with an attitude that keeps you hooked. She is engaging, steering away from the pop norm. 

The short set only allows for six songs, but they are impressive songs. “Degraded” and “White Lie” both have lyrics that bely her age. Either that or she has packed some living into her young years. The standout number is “Renegade”, which is both well crafted and sung and brings about cheers from the small but appreciative crowd.

Next up is another young singer in the form of Devon Mayson, who is supporting Caitlin on the whole tour. Mayson is a different act to April and is more of your classic singer-songwriter; and what fantastic songs they are.

“Fly High” is a beautiful number which she sings with passion and feeling, telling a story true to her heart. Devon also includes a cover in her set in the shape of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud”. Predictable maybe, but a superb rendition which pleases the crowd. The set closer “You Only Love Me When You’re Drunk” hits home with many.

The Kris Barras Band have been on the radar for a while. The heavily tattooed guitar slinger is in for a busy night, as he will be providing backing for the main act to come. This set is his own though, and he sets the scene with some ripping guitar magic in his opening number “I Can’t Help You Now”. The audience is gifted an incredible cover of “Red House”, before the hot rocking “In Too Deep”, from his new album Lucky 13.

The mood is continued with more stunning guitar in the shape of “Heart On Your Sleeve”. The vibe is mellowed with the slow blues of “Watching Over Me”, giving the audience a chance to see the multi-faceted playing of the guitarist. “Rock & Roll” follows, again from his latest offering, before the audience are left with a spellbinding version of the Dylan classic “All Along The Watchtower”. A great keyboard intro gives way to some superb guitar and vocal from Kris. Ever the showman he chooses to play the guitar behind his head, and then with his teeth.

As mentioned, it’s a quick turnaround for Kris and the band as they are back on stage with Caitlin Koch. The Buffalo native who now lives in Nashville is here for a quick jaunt around the country, and Bristol is lucky to have her here. Having been on the first series of the American X-Factor, she has carved a name for herself as a bonafide country artist. That said, the opening track is a superb acoustic version of Radiohead’s “Creep” showing that she is not a one trick pony.

This acoustic section then gives way to the country rock of “In My Head”, an unbelievable song sung with an amazing voice. Caitlin can sing – and sings beautifully. She could make the phone book sound marvellous. Luckily for the Bristol crowd, they get some tremendous songs instead. “Night Maker” and “Gunpowder And Lead” give the audience a chance to see a variety of song styles and in the vocal talent of this brilliant entertainer, before being treated to a beautiful version of the classic “Jolene”.

The wonderful “Safe Bet” is a well-written number, which was co-written with Anthony Smith (who has written for Rascal Flatts and Tim McGraw, to name but two), and gets the reaction it so duly deserves from the crowd. “Paris” continues on the country rock tip before it is too soon the end of the set. The hungry crowd get another song, in the shape of the wonderful “Whipping Post”. A great way to end what has been an unreal night of roots music and Americana.

Caitlin Koch
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April Allen

Devon Mayson
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Kris Barras Band
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The Bierkeller
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Event Date: 01-MAR-2017