US-based country superstar Charles Esten delivers a much needed uplifting concert on ‘Blue Monday’.

Many will be familiar with Charles Esten through his role as Deacon Claybourne in the ABC/CMT musical-drama television programme Nashville. However, with the hit TV show now wrapped up the versatile actor and singer/songwriter is currently focussing his attention on his solo music career. Tonight Esten makes his North East debut at the Sage Gateshead.

Charles Esten is joined on this tour by rising British country stars The Adelaides. The trio is getting ready to make their debut release in March and subsequently, they take the opportunity to introduce their original material to the Tyneside country faithful.

The intoxicating melody and spellbinding three-part vocal harmonies of “Jack Daniels” along with the beautifully heartfelt “No Survivors” certainly hit the spot. Likewise, the group puts their own distinctive stamp on Dolly Parton’s timeless classic “Jolene” to great effect. By the end of The Adelaides short but sweet set the group has the crowd up on their feet dancing and singing along with their rather lively number “Jelly Baby”.

On the strength of tonight’s performance alone you can expect big things to come from The Adelaides in the not too distant future. This incredibly talented outfit is the perfect example of British country music at its finest.

Tonight’s Charles Esten show at the Sage Gateshead much like all of the dates on this run sold out in record time. This being a testament to the rising popularity of country music in the UK right now.

The large yet intimate Hall 2 at the Sage Gateshead is the perfect setting for tonight’s show. With two tiers of balcony surrounding the stage 360 degrees, it gives the artist the feeling that the crowd is almost on top of them, as fans peer over the railings from above. Despite this, at no point does Charles Esten make those sat behind the stage feel excluded. He even jokes at one point in the evening that from their aerial perspective this would be how he would appear on Google Maps.

For roughly half of the show, Esten performs entirely solo, armed with either his trusty acoustic guitar or the Steinway Concert Grand piano positioned centre stage as he delivers a mix of songs from the Nashville TV show along with his original solo material. The beauty of tonight’s show is that each song is accompanied by a back story as to how the composition came to fruition. Not only is Charles Esten a talented musician but he is also a superb storyteller.

Esten informs the crowd that as his fans managed to sell the show out in just two hours he would “Keep Coming Back”, as he broke into the song of the same name on the piano. This indeed is welcome news for his army of British fans in attendance tonight.

With patrons travelling from all corners of the globe to be at tonight’s show, many of whom have attended multiple dates on this tour, the atmosphere inside of the room is incredibly supportive and friendly. This, in turn, allows Charles Esten to experiment and try new things in his set without fear of judgement.

The Adelaides return to the stage to join Esten for roughly half of his set, as collectively and harmoniously they bring the songs of Nashville to life. This includes showstopping performances of the likes of “Believing” and “Undermine”. Esten himself has nothing but good things to say about The Adelaides, and those in attendance tonight would completely agree with that sentiment. It’s very apparent that both Esten and The Adelaides have enjoyed this run of shows together, and neither seem to want this final show of the UK tour to come to an end.

Esten takes the opportunity to give a rare airing to “This Town”, which features Paris Georgia on piano. However, one of the many highlights of the show is the foursome’s spellbinding rendition of “Sanctuary”. As the song reaches its conclusion, the quartet delivers the final verses acapella, which is a magical moment of the evening for sure. 

All four musicians return to the stage for a two-song encore featuring “A Life That’s Good” and “Friend of Mine”. The latter of which perfectly encapsulates the sense of community and friendship within the Sage Gateshead tonight.

This evening Charles Esten delivers a formidable tour de force of country music that not only highlights his own talents but unselfishly showcases that of others. This may well be Charles Esten’s first visit to Tyneside but it certainly won’t be his last.

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Charles Esten
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The Adelaides
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Event Date: 21-Jan-2019

About The Author

Adam Kennedy is an experienced music photographer based in northeast England. He has been shooting concerts for several years, predominantly with the band Vintage Trouble. In 2013, he was one of their tour photographers, covering the UK and Ireland tour including the headline shows and as opening act for The Who. As an accomplished concert photographer, Adam's work has been featured in print such as, Classic Rock Blues Magazine, Guitarist Magazine, Blues in Britain magazine, broadcast on the MDA Telethon on ABC Television in the US, used in billboard advertising for Renaissance Hotels in the US, and featured online via music blogs such as Uber Rock and Guitar Planet. He is also the official photographer at Newcastle Rock and Blues Club.