The singer-songwriter and Nashville star warmed our hearts with her performance at the Royal Festival Hall.
To celebrate the release of her self-titled debut album, Clare Bowen headed to the UK for a run of shows earlier this month. Best known for her leading role as Scarlett O’Connor on the hit TV series NASHVILLE, Clare showed us that she’s not just a great performer on the screen but much more so off screen and on stage.
Growing up in rural Australia, Clare’s connection to the world was music. “I was brought up on my parents’ vinyl collection – everything from Vivaldi, to Elvis, to Dolly, to Springsteen, Edith Piaf and Etta James.” she says.
It’s easy to fall in love with Clare – her fairy like demeanour and happy attitude give her that instant likeability factor. And then she’ll go and blow you away with that voice of hers. Dressed in a feather-like dress and a rainbow tambourine, what’s not to love?
And she doesn’t just tell great stories on screen – the ideas behind her songs truly will give you goosebumps, happy goosebumps. Doors And Corridors for example is an ode to her childhood, of which she spent most in hospitals and too sick to go to school. “My parents turned something that could have been very very scary into something I wouldn’t change for the world.” And as she sings you can see the joy in her eyes. The excellent songwriting on this track take the audience back to their own childhod, remembering the house and home that they grew up in.
Warrior, which she played later on in the show, is also dedicated to this time. But instead of her immediate family, this is for the children she was in hospital with. She explains that she couldn’t quite find the right words for this song and how Brandon and Justin Halpern helped her write what would become the beautiful track that is Warriors.
Clare fully embraces the show that gave her the platform for performing she has today. “Does anybody watch Nashville?” she asks the audience and is greeted with loud cheers. After all, a fair amount of credit goes to the US TV hit for the growth of UK country music in the last few years. Before she launches into the very smooth If I Didn’t Know Better (originally a duet with Sam Palladio), she tells of the first time she met her now husband Brandon when they sang together at the Bridgestone Arena, Nashville. “He walked through the door and I swear he had a halo. When you meet the right one you just know.”
Aves’ Song is a track in which Clare addresses the suicide attempt of one of her dearest friends. The very upbeat chorus shines a light on the positive outcome of it and that there are always people who believe in you.
And if you didn’t have the hairs standing up on your arm by then, you definitely got a little teary eyed as she explains us the story behind Lullaby. Dedicated to the UK and written after the terror attacks in 2017, Bowen says “You just showed each other so much love! If I could write the world a lullaby, this would be it.”
Throughout the night, Clare gives the musicians in her band their own chance to shine and show the audience their unique talents. Including her brother, Timothy Bowen – he covers a song from Nashville, originally sung by Charles Esten as Deacon for Rayna. From Here On Out talks about all the times he’s hurt her before but is now ready to face up to those mistakes and not let them happen again.
One of the stand-out songs of the evening is Black Roses. Clare originally performed it on Nashville for her TV mom, it does however beautifully show off her vocal talent. She also doesn’t shy away from covering one of the biggest songs from the show, Telescope was on season one and performed by Hayden Panettiere. It’s classic country pop and differs quite strongly from Clare’s usual sound but she makes it work.
Knowing her UK audience appreciate all kinds of country music, Clare even throws in a medley cover of the genre’s biggest hits including Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash. For the encore, the singer once again goes back to her Nashville roots, thanking the “Nashies” and performing a killer track with support act Striking Matches.
Whether you’ve watched Nashville or not, Clare Bowen is a rising star in the country music scene and her endearing personality will keep winning her fans across the globe. She’s proven that she can capture an audience and tell intriguing stories – the UK loves her and we sure hope she’ll be back soon!