February 19th 2020
Photos and Review by Rebecca Bush
Kiefer Sutherland, actor, producer, director and rodeo star (yes, really). A man who wears many hats, and tonight it is a White Gaucho in honour of his most recent endeavour – Country music! He begins his UK run promoting new release ‘Reckless and Me’ tonight and having missed his UK dates at the end of last year I was thrilled to learn of his return. Being keen to see him perform, I made the four hour pilgrimage to Ipswich (thanks M25!) and was not disappointed!
Supporting Kiefer tonight and for the duration of his 9 date UK tour are Birmingham beauties The Adelaides.
These three ladies look every bit the part and I could easily be standing in a bar in Nashville watching them perform. It’s a smooth easy start to the evening with catchy three part harmonies beautifully executed and wonderful acoustic accompaniment.
I am a big country music fan but have never actually managed to go to a country show, even when I visited Tennessee many years ago – and this has all the atmosphere I imagined it would.
Although more on the pop side of country, there is a real authentic feel to their music and their original material is well written. Real favourites include ‘I’d Do It Again’ and ‘Good Love’.
They are received well by the audience who clap along at their request and the room is dancing and nicely warmed up for what is to come!
The time arrived for Kiefer to take to the stage, and as the lights turned deep red the band assumed their positions amidst a saloon style set up with tables adjourned with fringed table lamps and Persian rugs on the floor.
The cheers went up as did the lights and straight into their first number of the evening, Kiefer joining last and running straight to the mic, not missing a beat.
Here in front of little me and my camera (astoundingly only me in the vast photo pit) was a huge star I have been a fan of for years and yet I kind of forgot that he was anything other than a great country singer – it felt like this was home for him here in this environment. There was nothing at all contrived about it; this was a completely comfortable fit.
The music has all the greatest elements of pure country, it has a real heart that translates wonderfully, not least of all through Sutherland’s story telling.
Speaking of his time at the Rodeo and ranch, he tells us of his horse – Reckless, and the title track of this album being initially about him and how he began to see that it was possibly more reflective of his reckless youth.
He also talks of his influences and the meanings behind his songs, setting the scene perfectly and taking us with him for the ride. One such example of this is Shirley -Jean, a song inspired by Johnny Cash and the songs he wrote about American men in prison.
It’s a letter from a man the night before his execution to the only girl he ever knew because he went to prison so young. He really puts you right there in the moment and he sings it with such soul. Despite being under the weather, his voice holds up well and it doesn’t stop him from leaping around the stage and jamming out with his brilliant band.
The super talented Austin Charles Vallejo plays impressive guitar licks and looks every bit the cowboy with his plaited hair and his Black Stetson hat. Phil Parlapiano sits at a keyboard inside a vintage piano looking shell and plays the accordion too, adding a great depth to the music and giving it a real authenticity.
Backed up by energetic and lively action on the drums provided by Jess Calcatera, skilful rhythm guitar from Doug Pettibone and the stylings of Joseph DeLao on the bass!
There’s a wonderful mix of sway-worthy and stomp-worthy tracks tonight and it’s a great showcase of all of their combined talents and Kiefer’s brilliant song writing, there really does seem to be no end to his creativity and skill.
He takes another moment to address us all and tells us the story of his mother and her fight back to health from a severe stroke. It’s an intimate moment and heart warming to listen to him speak of his family and his love and admiration for his mother.
He then leads us into an upbeat number about the first time he was in a bar at a young age, ‘This is How It’s Done’ and everyone gets to stomping! There is a great connection between everyone on stage, everything is tight and effortless, the way they all interact and play off each other is wonderful to see.
I caught myself smiling from ear to ear on more than one occasion just basking in the atmosphere they created, which spread across the whole venue like wildfire. Rounding off the evening with a stonking cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ and hand clapping, foot stomping, sing along number ‘Agave’, they leave everyone in the room in the highest of spirits.
This was a total triumph and a roaring start to the UK run of shows – if I had been able I definitely would have hit up one of the other dates, keep your eyes peeled people you won’t want to miss this next time Mr Sutherland swings into town!