Almost one year to the day since the popular tv series Nashville rolled into Dublin to play a live concert of hits from the show and more. The cast who make the trip are pretty much the same as last year with Charles Esten (Deacon Claybourne), Sam Palladio (Gunnar Scott), Chris Carmack (Will Lexington), Clare Bowen (Scarlett O’Connor), Jonathan Jackson (Avery Barkley) along with others.
A number of the songs played tonight as part of the set list are repeats from the show last year, but this is not a criticism per se, as the material stands up very well and deserves a repeated listen. Each performer takes the stage in a solo capacity for a few songs before being joined by another of the principal actors, either to sing together or to take over for the next section of the show.
This diversity creates an interesting variety and adds to the overall atmosphere, with each performer staying only long enough to achieve maximum reaction from the audience before handing over the microphone to the next in line. Each of the main characters is so comfortable with live musical performance that one has to wonder which talent came first – the acting or the music?
The first half of the show contains 13 songs that are all played with great energy and commitment. The backing band of 5 musicians includes the talents of Fats Kaplin and Colin Linden.
Jonathan Jackson steals the show with two passionate deliveries; Love Rescue Me and Unchained Melody. His voice is pure and strong and his timing in delivery is everything to move the appreciative crowd into a standing ovation.
Chris Camack is very personable and a really fine guitar player as his various performances prove. His blues playing on Texas Flood (Stevie Ray Vaughan) is quite superb, as is his delivery of favourites What If I Was Willin’ and Pieces of You (despite forgetting the words, for a verse…)!
The early part of the show is dogged by poor sound as Buckle Up, with Charles Esten, suffers from microphone problems on the vocals and later, Jonathan Jackson is drowned out by an overly loud backline and keys delivery on Keep Asking Why. These are really just small observations as the entire performance over 2 hours plus is one of celebration and positive energy as Clare Bowen implores the die-hard fans to celebrate the light and not dwell in the darkness of all that is weighing us down in these uncertain times.
Indeed, she is a sensitive flower who flits across the stage in her faerie dress and later completes the outfit by adding wings...! Her voice is beautiful and on her performance of Fade Into You with Sam Palladio, you could hear a pin drop. Equally, when she sings with Brandon Young on Longer she really takes control before following with Little By Little, a new song that acknowledges a positive attitude to living. Later in the show Clare kills it once again with great versions of When The Right One Comes Along and Black Roses.
Sam Pallidio plays his excellent song, Wake Me Up In Nashville which is a big favourite from last year and the story behind the song is one to break many hearts. He also puts in a stellar performance with guest singer Una Healy on their co-written single, Stay My Love. He also turns in another fine performance on I Will Fall, with Jonathan Jackson on piano and then, with Chris Camack on the hard rockin’ Headed For The Fire.
The audience are surprised by a visit from the artists with Charles Esten and Clare Bowen performing You’ve Got A Hand To Hold on the floor of the arena and later, when Chris Camack and Clare Bowen return to the audience to dance and pose for photos during Stand Up which speaks of love, unity & strength.
The finale features the ever-popular Charles Esten who performs Everything To Me and He Ain’t Me before the entire cast take the stage for a rousing version of David Bowie’s song Heroes. One More Song follows and then a rendition of Danny Boy which blends into the show-stopping A Life That’s Good.
There is no doubting the sincerity of the performance or the earnest comments of the main performers and the crowd love every minute. This show is so popular here and the performers have every right to make the crowd feel special as they face a return to reality and the working day. Tonight brought many smiles to numerous faces and after all, isn’t that what entertainment is really all about?
Review by Paul McGee with photography by Ronnie Norton