The duo is the first ever UK country act to headline the Royal Albert Hall – and it was spectacular.
Trailblazing the way for country music in the UK, it is no surprise that The Shires’ new record Accidentally On Purpose, out now via Decca Records, is a smash hit. Crissie and Ben really know how take that Nashville feeling and apply it to their British audience. It’s catchy country pop with killer harmonies and lyrics that are as relatable as they are beautiful.
So on this summer Friday night, Britain’s first royal country duo is crowned with a stunning show at the iconic Royal Albert Hall. The show marks part of a huge UK tour in support of their latest release and follow-up to 2016’s sophomore record My Universe.
The Shires kick off their memorable set with the very pop-infused Echo which sets the mood for the evening and has parts of the venue on their feet immediately. The duo don’t just sparkle with their fabulous outfits, but more so with their personalities and skilful songwriting. It is hard not to love these two, their genuine happiness to be there paints a smile on every last face in the venue.
Presenting a set that is well mixed with new tracks and old favorites, the band have us wrapped around their fingers from the first note until the last chord. The Royal Albert Hall truly shows its beauty when Ben takes to the piano for tracks like Statelines or Ahead Of The Storm, a track off their new album which showcases the talent that lies behind the biggest selling UK country act. The folky influence of the song and its eery harmonies have the entire venue fixed on stage in awe.
Stay The Night, written by Ed Sheeran, is a beautiful track but feels a little out of place, and oddly shines an even brighter light on the rest of the set. The track can’t shake the shadow of its composer but with that only brings to the surface the skill that Ben and Crissie have. To be honest, they don’t need Ed Sheeran writing songs for them as they do such a much more brilliant job of it themselves.
A perfect example of the above point is Daddy’s Little Girl. Written by Crissie for her dad who passed away when she was just eight years old, the song doesn’t leave a dry eye in the house. It’s goosebumps all around, and everyone has the overwhelming urge to give her a big bear hug.
As Sleepwalk echoes through the Royal Albert Hall, the phone lights go up and you have never seen a more beautiful sight than this venue lit up with lighters.
“The boys get all these guitar changes so I thought I’d have a change of something too” Crissie jokes as she puts on her dancing shoes – we get it, girl! Cue the band’s latest hit and lead single off the new record, it’s Guilty. The country-pop tune is all you’ll need to have a good time this summer, just turn it up loud.
Few things describe The Shires better as their own single Nashville Grey Skies. Having sold records faster and in bigger quantity than any Uk country act before them, they are the very reason that this genre is growing so rapidly, making way for up and coming artists to receive more recognition and more stages to play on.
We can build our own Nashville
Underneath these grey skies
And people will come, they’ll come from far and wide
They’ll leave their village greens and their big cities behind
… it’s about time. And boy is it ever. There is so much songwriting talent hidden in this genre – whether it’s country pop, Americana or folk – Britain has an ocean full of singer-songwriters telling stories of love and heartbreak, of family and friends, of all the things we can all relate to in one way or another. And The Shires are at the forefront of it all.
The encore encompasses what Crissie and Ben are all about: great songwriting, killer harmonies and having a ton of fun delivering a flawless performance. Loving You Too Long is the beautiful ballad that kicks off the encore and is followed by a cover of country legends Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers’ Islands In The Stream (cue the phone lights!). The show is rounded off by the band’s 2016 hit single A Thousand Hallelujahs,which is the perfect Friday night track to send us off into the night with big smiles on our faces.
With shows this flawless and a fanbase as dedicated as theirs, this is only the beginning for The Shires.
You can still catch them on the below dates as well as supporting Michael Buble at his BST Hyde Park show and supporting country-pop icon Shania Twain on her UK tour.
22 May – Regent Theatre, Ipswich
23 May – Corn Exchange, Cambridge
24 May – New Theatre, Oxford
27 May – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
28 May – The Sage, Gateshead
30 May – Sands Centre, Carlisle
31 May – Barbican, York
01 June – Symphony Hall, Birmingham
03 June – Victoria Hall, Stoke-On-Trent
04 June – Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
05 June – Venue Cymru, Llandudno
06 June – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
08 June – Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
09 June – Dome, Brighton
10 June – The Anvil, Basingstoke