GIG REVIEW: Brandy Clark – O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London

LifeInASong_UK

Seeing Brandy Clark live is always such a joyous privilege. It’s been well over three years since her sublime ‘Big Day In A Small Town’ album was released, and she had originally planned to do a full UK tour in conjunction with a new album release this year, but there seems to have been a hold-up from the label. Fear not, the album will be available early next year, and Brandy explained that there will definitely be a full UK tour to look forward to further down the line. Travelling down to London in rush hour on a Friday is never ideal, but this show was worth every snail-paced mile…

Nashville-based Country/Americana artist Kyle Daniel opened the show, and gave us one of the best opening sets I can remember seeing. This guy is seriously good, with gravelly, soulful vocals and some killer songs in his relatively small but expanding back catalogue. I particularly loved his performance of ‘That Somebody Ain’t Me’, a very touching acoustic track that showcased the emotion in his voice beautifully. The lead single from that EP, ‘Hangover Town’, was also a stand-out, and went down really well with a London crowd who seemed to connect more and more with every song that went by. That’s certainly how to make a good first impression; bravo Mr Daniel.

Backed by a five-piece band, Brandy kicked off with her popular single, and still her highest-charting song to date, ‘Girl Next Door’, followed by a few fan favourites including ‘Big Day In A Small Town’, ‘Get High’ and the Grammy-nominated ‘Love Can Go To Hell’. The latter sounded incredible, particularly with the inclusion of a cellist in the band; strings have the ability to add such depth and a theatrical, orchestral feel to any track, and it elevated an already gorgeous song to another level.

The middle part of the show consisted of a selection of songs from her upcoming third album, followed by covers of her favourite classics. The new material is equally as good, if not better than the ‘Big Day’ album, and that is the highest praise I could ever give to a new project. She treated us to a whopping SIX new songs; ‘Love Is A Fire’, ‘Bottom Of The Ocean’, ‘Pawn Shop’, ‘Who You Thought I Was’, ‘Can We Be Strangers’ and ‘Bigger Boat’ (just guessing at titles so apologies for any inaccuracies!). Each and every one of them a gem; it’s classic Brandy Clark with phenomenal, heart-wrenching melodies and the immense lyrical quality we’ve come to know and love over the years.

I’ve always said Brandy Clark could sing the phone book and I’d still sit and watch her for hours, so the content of her set list isn’t something that bothers me much! The covers she did were stunning; George Strait’s ‘The Chair’, followed by Carole King’s ‘Will You Love Me Tomorrow’ and Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Blue Bayou’. She obviously felt like she needed to mix it up a little, having already toured the ‘Big Day’ album, and it was really refreshing to see a very different show this time around.

Towards the end of the set, it was back to the fan favourites, with the likes of ‘Daughter’, ‘Hold My Hand’ and of course, ‘Stripes’, which got everyone up on their feet. Brandy returned to the stage for an encore which was an acoustic performance of ‘Three Kids No Husband’, such an iconic song and easily one of the best examples of country storytelling in the last decade.

We are lucky to have Brandy Clark in our generation; she’s one of a kind and without a doubt one of the best lyricists and performers in the genre. The new album can’t come soon enough; from what we heard at Shepherd’s Bush, it’s already an album of the year contender for 2020.

Dan Wharton
@LifeInASong_Dan

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