Into Music Reviews: Charles Esten at Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow

Act: Charles Esten
Venue: Old Fruitmarket, Glasgow
Date: 30 January 2019

9 July 2017 was the last time my good lady and I attended a gig together and it also happened to be our 12th wedding anniversary. We spent it in the company of the late great Tom Petty in London’s Hyde Park. That was 71 gigs ago for me and fair to say we don’t see a lot of bands together. So when out of the blue she asked if I’d like to accompany her to see someone called Charles Esten I thought, ‘Who the feck is Charles Esten?’ and ‘This is a trap!’.

Turns out Charles Esten plays a character called Deacon Claybourne in the TV show Nashville that chronicles the lives of fictitious country music singers. A programme I’ve never seen but at least I now knew what type of music I was going to get. A little out of my comfort zone but as it turned out not that far out of it.

Going by the ratio of women to men, about 80/20, it appears Mr Esten is a bit of a heartthrob and are more than a little excited to see him hit the stage. Clearly some of the crowd don’t go to gigs very often as I was informed by one that I wasn’t allowed to stand in the six foot gap in front of her as she wouldn’t be able to see the stage. It was with some amusement I moved a little further back to accommodate this request, but I did have a little chuckle as other people moved into the area and weren’t as accommodating much to the frustration of said girl. She then spent half the show on her phone and left before the encore.

As to the gig itself I was expecting a band but it was just Esten and his guitar and piano for the early part and I found myself quite enjoying it. He did a great cover of Tom Petty’s Don’t Do Me Like That followed a few songs later by a, more than passable, piano rendition of Springsteen’s Thunder Road. I was quite warming to the guy. Not knowing any of the other songs, the show, for me, did dip a bit until he brought the support band back on, which we’d caught the end of, The Adelaides. Not from Australia as we assumed going by the name but from London and three females who could all sing, with a couple also playing guitar.

There was some first-rate harmonising between all four and a couple of songs really stood out in Undermine and Sanctuary, with the latter seeing them take a step back from the microphone and almost sing without any amplification, proving very effective. Not really knowing most of the songs they started to take on a sound-a-like quality and I started to flag near the end but by the time they finished with a song that everyone seemed to know except me called A Life’s That Good, I’d been more than entertained.

A night that I thought was going to be a bit of a slog turned out to be way more engaging than I was expecting. Sometimes going out your comfort zone can bring its own rewards although I doubt I would go see him again or indeed start watching Nashville.

Oh, and, my wife enjoyed it too.

Kevin Williamson

Don’t Do Me Like That

Thunder Road

Undermine

Sanctuary

 

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