REVIEW: Drake White & The Big Fire – Live At The Borderline

It’s rather interesting how certain artists just hit the spot when it comes to UK audiences. Just look at The Cadillac Three for example – not exactly setting the US charts alight but they’re selling out venues left, right and centre in the UK. Charlie Worsham is another one to add to that category. Soon, we might have another in Drake White. Drake made probably the biggest impact of any artist at C2C earlier this year, and he’s continued that buzz on this run of UK dates with Kip Moore. Never before have I witnessed a support act receiving the sort of reaction Drake has; his infectious energy and stage presence really is something to behold.

Once the shows with Kip were over and done with, Drake stuck around for an intimate headlining show at The Borderline in London. I was intrigued to see the turn out for this one, considering many had probably seen him elsewhere earlier in the week. But boy, did he pack the place out. There was hardly room to breathe! The new-look Borderline served as a wonderful setting for Drake’s very first bill-topping show overseas, and it’ll live long in the memory for anyone who was in attendance.

Opening the show was the brilliant Jillian Jacqueline. Hailed as one of the ‘Country Artists You Need To Know’ by Rolling Stone, it’s an exciting time for Jillian and after a number of years perfecting her craft, now seems to be her time to shine. She’ll be back in March for an appearance at Country2Country, and she’s already become a firm favourite with the die-hard London contingent. Jillian performed tracks from her brand new ‘Side A’ EP, including her powerful single ‘Reasons’ (11 million streams on Spotify!) and my personal favourite ‘Sugar and Salt’ – clever, intricate, Kacey-esque writing that was warmly embraced by the audience. There’s a lovely freshness to her music as well as her stage presence – keep an eye out for Jillian, she’s gonna be a star!

Drake took the stage shortly after, kicking off the show with a string of fan favourites from his debut album ‘Spark’. The thumping rhythm of ‘Heartbeat’ was the ideal opener, getting the Saturday night crowd fired up for a high-energy 90 minutes. The brilliantly quirky ‘Story’ followed, which is slowly becoming another UK country anthem, and that crowd knew every single word from start to finish. Drake often turned the mic around and looked on in awe, as his adoring followers fed back the energy seeping from the stage. This is a performer who feels every single moment of every song; ‘passionate’ would be an understatement. Off stage, Drake’s a very quiet, humble individual – it’s like someone flips a switch when that stage door opens!

It was fantastic to hear some album tracks that don’t quite make the cut for a 30-minute support show. ‘Take Me As I Am’, which has the feel of an absolute mega hit, brought so much power and energy to the room, as well as ‘Back To Free’ and ‘I Need Real’ with their anthemic choruses. Drake’s delivery is just spot on; there’s passion behind every word and that raspy, powerful voice fills a room like few others can. We were also treated to a performance of ‘The Simple Life’, a song released independently back in 2013. A jolly, refreshing track that brings a sense of perspective; it’s the little things in life that matter most.

Drake’s rendition of The Beatles’ ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ has gone down a storm on this UK run, and he chose this one to close the evening with. The extended instrumental at the end demonstrates the immense musical ability of ‘The Big Fire’ band and you just have to stand back and admire the sheer quality. It’s a matter of time until the country music world really starts to take notice of Drake White – he’s too good for that not to happen.

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan

1. Heartbeat
2. Story
3. Equator
4. I Need Real
5. Back to Free
6. The Simple Life
7. Take Me As I Am
8. Waitin’ on the Whiskey to Work
9. Raised Right
10. Coast is Clear
11. Freestyle
12. Livin’ the Dream
13. Makin’ Me Look Good Again
14. It Feels Good
15. With a Little Help From My Friends