Ward Thomas at Islington Assembly Hall
No doubt Ward Thomas are bored to tears of people making a fuss of the disparity between their musical performance and their natural demeanour, but it is quite something to behold. At first the crisp boarding-school-in-Surrey accent jars uncomfortably with their all-American country music, but after a while the novelty fades and it’s really quite charming.
It’s been a year since Terry Wogan played their debut single on Radio 2 and the twins were flung into fame by a giant BBC-Introducing-shaped catapult. There’s something rather appealing about the twins’ dynamic: Lizzy is more confident in both voice and body language, while Catherine’s nervous interjections are the stuff Hugh Grant characters are made of.
The second half of their set saves the gig from becoming a little stale; there’s only so much harmonising an audience can take. Their cover of Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror is a valiant but ultimately bland effort, which is luckily pulled back up to par by Push for the Stride and the toe-tappingly catchy Town Called Ugley. There’s a creeping feeling that the band isn’t quite keeping time as tightly as it needs to towards the end of the set, but the general bobbing and whooping implies that this doesn’t matter too much to the audience.
The girls’ tribute to their mother, Who We Are, is touching, and their rendition of Caledonia commands a quiet respect throughout, though the general consensus is that these two excel at feel-good, rousing tunes filled with the hope and joy of youth and life on the open road. They’re only 20, so there’s plenty of time for their music to mature and acquire the depth and complexity that makes good country music excellent. Undoubtedly, they will achieve this as long as they can preserve some of that infectious enthusiasm and charming naivety.
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Watch the video for Town Called Ugley here: