The Shires at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
People are crammed into every available gap in the Shepherd’s Bush Empire. Someone faints, either from excitement or overheating, before the band takes to the stage. The Shires enter to huge cheers from the crowd, which rarely die down throughout the evening. The duo have a strong fan base. They perform better live because of the audible support their followers give – lending a momentum and power to their music.
The room sings along to My Universe, chanting the chorus “You only get one life”. Blue-grey lights swim around people’s swaying arms and immerse the performers. Nashville Grey Skies reasserts The Shires’s country influences and perhaps lacks the originality of their more rock-inspired tracks such as Jekyll and Hyde. They sing a tribute to their favourite artist with Angels – “It’s such an indulgence,” says Ben Earle, and their excuse to have a professional Karaoke on stage.
They are appealing band, sharing anecdotes and making the crowd comfortable. The duo’s music moves people: members of the audience cry as Brave begins and their voices crack with emotion as they sing along with Naked. Like Mumford and Sons the singer-songwriters are part of the country music revival in England, though they are more true to the genre’s roots.
The gig is a couple’s paradise – or even perfect to bring anyone you love to – a sense of community is formed in the stalls. Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes do not patronise the audience but offer over anecdotes and their gratitude at so many fans coming to their concerts. Country music has the power to divide and The Shires create a sound that is both appreciated and loved by enthusiasts of the genre and not despised by those who cannot stand it. A considerable number of checked shirts and “country girl” T-shirts are mixed in with people who simply love The Shires, which proves they have attracted more than just country fans.
Photos: Erol Birsen
For further information about the Shires and future events visit here.
Watch the video for My Universe here: