Gig Reviews

GIG REVIEW: The Shires – Live At Symphony Hall, Birmingham, UK

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The ’10 Year Plan’ Tour had been a long time coming for The Shires. Like so many, the UK duo fell victim to the Covid pandemic, which unfortunately meant that they couldn’t even tour their 2020 album Good Years. With their new collection 10 Year Plan out now, Ben and Crissie had a lot of catching up to do and a lot of new material to showcase, and we were fortunate enough to catch their show at Birmingham’s iconic Symphony Hall, one of the country’s most gorgeous settings for a live show.

Firstly, the support acts were more than worthy of a special mention. Homegrown talent and ‘Whiskey Drinking Woman’ Kezia Gill was first up, who fired some energy into the crowd with her signature stage presence and engaging personality. Kezia really is a born entertainer who has truly blossomed into one of the UK’s top acts in recent years. With favourites like “Thirties,” “Whiskey Drinkin’ Woman” and the beautiful mental health-inspired “I’m Here,” she earned a very warm reception from the Midlands fans.

Eric Paslay followed in similar fashion with his collection of hits, both as a songwriter and as an artist in his own right. Smashes like “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” “Friday Night” and the more recent Keith Urban hit “Wild Hearts” delighted the crowd, many of whom (we get the impression) weren’t familiar with his catalogue. A charismatic presence, Eric is such a loveable, humble character who truly embraced the opportunity he was given on this tour. You can check out our interview with Eric HERE.

The Shires were flawless – as reliable as ever. Ben and a twin-carrying Crissie make it look so easy, delivering stunning harmonies and singalong classics from start to finish. It’s a testament to the quality of their output that they can still pack out venues like the Symphony Hall (and the London Palladium, later in the tour) year after year – that’s not to be sniffed at.

The set list was a lovely mix of the familiar fan favourites and some of the deeper album cuts, which was great to see. “The Hard Way” from Accidentally On Purpose has always been a favourite here at YLIAS, so that was a welcome inclusion, as well as “Plot Twist” and the country radio-ready “A Bar Without You” from the latest album. These slightly more adventurous moments are always highlights of a Shires live show.

Another stand-out moment was in the middle of the show, when they stripped things back to how the duo began – just Ben at a piano. Their acoustic performances of “Black and White” and another album cut, “Side By Side” (another from the latest album) silenced the crowd in adoration – you could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium. There aren’t many in the genre who can do that kind of performance better, including the folks across the pond.

They are such polished live performers who have certainly withstood the test of time. Eric Paslay believes they would be up for Duo Of The Year if the States really took a chance on them, and it’s difficult to argue when you witness a live show of theirs. Long may their reign at the top continue, and hopefully the stellar venues they’ve played on this tour will be hosting many Shires tours for many years to come. A hugely enjoyable evening all-round.

Set List:

  1. Lightning Strikes
  2. My Universe
  3. Friday Night
  4. State Lines
  5. A Bar Without You
  6. I See Stars
  7. About Last Night
  8. All Over Again
  9. Cut Me Loose
  10. Plot Twist
  11. Black and White
  12. Side by Side
  13. Daddy’s Little Girl
  14. The Hard Way
  15. Nashville Grey Skies
  16. Guilty
  17. Tonight
  18. I Just Wanna Love You
  19. Wild Hearts
  20. A Thousand Hallelujahs

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