Just days after Nashville was saved by CMT, a sold-out crowd gathered in Birmingham with great excitement, ready to welcome Sam Palladio, Clare Bowen, Charles Esten and Chris Carmack to the Midlands. It puts things into perspective really when you consider that the real country stars have to play at small venues, whilst the cast of a TV show can sell out the Symphony Hall in minutes. But let’s not take anything away from the quality of the show; it was a truly special night that will live long in the memory.
Chris Carmack opened the show with ‘What If I Was Willing’, a fan favourite Will Lexington hit that had everybody singing along from the off. He then welcomed Sam Palladio on stage who performed ‘Can’t Get It Right’ from season two, a wonderfully atmospheric, rather haunting track. I hadn’t heard it for such a long time; you forget just how good these songs really are, such is the quality of the show’s soundtrack.
The four cast members took it in turns to perform two or three songs each throughout the night with a few duets thrown in along the way. Clare Bowen was her lovely eccentric self and she had the audience in the palm of her hand. “I know I look like something your grandma puts on the toilet roll, but the best thing is…I don’t care!”. She was joined by her fiancé Brandon Young and their harmonies were gorgeous.
But the loudest applause, of course, came when Charles Esten graced the stage. Can’t resist can you girls? There was a mix of favourites from the TV show, as well as original songs; a highlight was a ballad Charles wrote called ‘I Know How To Love You Now’, inspired by Deacon’s love for Rayna in the show. A beautiful song that gave me goose bumps…you could hear a pin drop.
The moment everybody will remember is Sam’s performance of ‘Wake Me Up In Nashville’, an original song set to feature on his debut album. The track has always been a personal favourite of mine; a story about his Grandad’s lost love in Nashville. Be sure to check out a YouTube clip of Sam performing this at the Opry where he tells the full story. Anyway, after his performance, he spoke about how he has always wanted his Grandad to witness him perform the song live. As this was a hometown show, his family were all there, and he brought his Grandad out onto the stage as everybody stood to applaud. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house; a truly special moment that we’ll still be talking about in years to come.
However, this wasn’t the only moment that brought us all to tears. Clare Bowen returned to the stage to perform a song called ‘Love Steps In’, written for her brother who has just gone through chemotherapy. “Know you’re not alone…fight on, fight on little brother”. How she got through the song, and how she sang it so faultlessly, is just beyond belief. The whole crowd were on their feet once again at the end as Clare dropped to her knees in emotion. Our thoughts go out to her brother and the family at such a tough time.
Of course, we couldn’t ignore the encore ‘A Life That’s Good’, a resounding favourite across the board for Nashville fans far and wide. The audience lit up the Symphony Hall with their phone lights as the four cast members came together for a stunning rendition of the song that has clearly touched the hearts of so many people. All it needed was Lennon and Maisy on the chorus…but we can’t have everything! It was simply beautiful, a perfect end to a wonderful night of music.