Newcastle may be a long way from Nashville, but the North East has certainly developed a taste for country music in recent times.
At the start of the year, a performance from country star Charles Esten garnered a complete sell out at the Sage Gateshead’s Hall 2, with all of the tickets being snapped up in record time.
In recent times the Sage Gateshead has played host to many of the versatile actors/musicians from the hit TV show Nashville including Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio, Jonathan Jackson via his band E-nation and most recently Charles Esten. And following the response to his January date, he is back in the UK once again, this time with an upgrade to the venue’s main hall.
Much like the tour earlier this year, rising stars of the British country scene The Adelaides open the evening, marking their third appearance in this venue in 2019.
The trio’s beautiful three-part vocal harmonies are simply a joy from start to finish as they deliver a set of both original material along with a couple of covers. Whilst tracks like the feisty Jelly Baby and an uplifting airing of Good Love give the Gateshead crowd a taste of what they are about. The Adelaides take on The Pistol Annie’s Hell on Heels and an astounding rendition of Maren Morris’s My Church highlights that the Brits most certainly are keeping up with their US counterparts.
Charles Esten returns to Tyneside with the backing of his full band this time around, which in turn, adds a new dynamic to the proceedings compared to his largely acoustic show earlier this year.
With a Charles Esten concert, you get a bit of everything from his own compositions, through to songs and stories from Nashville as well as the occasional cover for good measure. The US-based artist likes to keep things loose and switches up his setlist most nights.
This evening’s show starts off with the big band vibe, as Esten and company take the crowd through his recent single A Road and a Radio along with Honky Tonk History and country rocker She Doesn’t Love Me. He jokes before the latter that it might just be the title of every country song ever written.
Of course, tracks such as the Kacey Musgraves co-write Undermine, the emotive Sanctuary and beautiful ballad Friend of Mine please the Nashies in attendance. These tracks also feature harmonious accompaniment from The Adelaides who make their second appearance of the evening.
A stripped-back segment featuring old school country ballad Cold Comfort, witty drinking song I Still Do and a nostalgic and somewhat crowd-pleasing cover of Yaz’s Only You all feature.
However, one of the unexpected highlights of the set is Esten’s take on Nirvana’s All Apologies. This being not a traditional cover for a country concert. Although it’s not the first time a country artist has covered rock bands, of course, Johnny Cash himself recorded a spellbinding take of the Nine Inch Nails classic Hurts during the latter stages of his career. This approach to blurring the lines between relatable genres is not only enjoyable and creative but in tonight’s case, it was really effective.
Before the end of the night, there is still room for another couple of songs from the show in question including a barnstorming airing of He Ain’t Me and parting number A Life That’s Good featuring The Adelaides.
Now the critically acclaimed Nashville TV show may well have aired for the final time. But its fans have far from forgotten the stars of the show that brought joy to their TV screens week in week out over 6 seasons of the hit show. And the response to tonight’s concert is no exception to that rule. For those that missed out, Charles Esten will be returning to the UK next year to as part of C2C.