HOT on the heels of the announcement of worldwide audience pressure and clever cast negotiations securing a fifth series of Nashville after the bean-counters had tried to pull the plug, four of its stars are on a worldwide tour, with UK dates including a Bristol stop.
This was nearest to home for Sam Palladio, who plays Gunnar Scott in the series, and he drew old friends from Penzance where he grew up to the Colston Hall. Country music might not be cool in England, but it surely is popular, attracting an audience as varied as any I have seen to see Charles Esten, Chris Carmack and Clare Bowen join Sam on stage.
It was a night of emotion and excitement as well as wonderful music making from The Rotting Matadors, a backing band from Nashville’s deep engine room headed by guitarist Colin Linden.
The stars played in relay in this sort- of reverse tribute show, where all are best known as the characters they play in Callie Khouri’s addictive series.
Opening with Chris (Will Lexington) singing What If I Was Willing, the running order went to Sam, then to Clare (Scarlett O’Connor) and then her screen uncle Esten (Deacon Claybourne). By the end of the evening Esten was telling his audience how his career as a musician-actor started in London in the early 1990s where, as Chip Esten, he starred as the boy from Lubbock in The Buddy Holly Story.
It felt good to be back in England, he said, as the audience cheered for Deacon and were less than enthusiastic about his screen rival Luke Wheeler.
Sam Palladio told stories of his grandfather’s lost love in Wake Me Up in Nashville, and performed a song from his new EP (how I remember the clatter of those Dansettes), the beautiful She Dances.
Chris’s highlight was a deep blues dedicated to his late mentor Scotty.
Perhaps the high point of the evening was Clare singing first a song about her brother, who has recently been diagnosed with a cancer that has required her own bone marrow transplant – life cruelly imitating the Deacon-and-his-sister story line of Season 3 – and then sitting on the front of the stage to perform When the Right One Comes Along, a song written by Striking Matches.
A truly memorable night at the Colston Hall.