Words: Ailsa Harper
Given the hype surrounding The Shires at the moment and their recent success, it’s no surprise that they sold out the Edinburgh date of their UK tour at the Liquid Rooms. I saw the duo last month at the BBC Quay Sessions where they played an intimate set so I was eager to catch them in full action with their backing band in the Scottish capital.
The support act for the evening came from singer-songwriter Jonathan Jerimiah, who was joined solely on-stage by his guitarist. There is an evident blues influence underpinning his tracks which in combination with his soulful voice is pleasing on the ear. His set is poignant and eases the crowd into the night.
Kicking off with ‘All Over Again’, The Shires are welcomed to the stage by the tumultuous crowd where Ben exclaims “You guys are a noisy lot aren’t you”: a statement which he certainly wasn’t wrong about. The first part of the set continues the upbeat, country-pop vibe with tracks such as ‘Nashville Grey Skies’ and ‘Only Midnight’. It’s clear that they have the audience in the palm of their hands.
A real highlight of the night is ‘Brave’, a slower track which is undeniably emotive, supported by the story that Crissie tells on stage that a young fan recently told them that the track got her through heart surgery. In one way or another, I’m sure everyone can relate to these lyrics on some level, which perhaps explains the diversity of the audience that is present in the room tonight.
It was inevitable that tonight’s set would comprise of tracks from their highly acclaimed album ‘Brave’ which despite being released back in March, has recently jumped back up the UK charts. However, the crowd is also treated to a preview of a few songs that are currently a work in progress for their second album. One of these being a track called ‘Drive’, written with popular country star, Kip Moore: this song really showcases their vocal chemistry and how beautifully their voices harmonise together.
The captivating ninety-minute long set really captures their versatility: this includes a cover of ‘Runaway’ originally by The Corrs, which sees the audience singing along and ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ which firmly cements the duo in the country genre. ‘Friday Night’ reinstates the euphoric atmosphere in the room and the anthemic ‘Tonight’ is a clear favourite where crowd interaction really kicks up a gear.
The encore brought the night to a close with ‘Black and White’ and an impressive cover of ‘Islands In The Stream’ (originally sung by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rodgers) to which The Shires added their own twist to make it their own. Ben and Crissie end the show by thanking the crowd for making it out on a Sunday night but in all honesty, I don’t think it would have mattered what night it was, they clearly have a solid and cemented fan base here in Scotland which I’m confident will only continue to grow.
The Shires album ‘Brave’ is available to download from iTunes here.