The Shires

Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow

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Stuart Morrison

five stars

THE Shires are country duo Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes. They hail from that well known country hotbed of the English Home Counties and are unsuccessful X-Factor contestants. Normally that resume would ring alarm bells, but amazingly, despite their origins and background, they are far and away the most successful UK country act of all time, being the first ever to achieve a top ten album place and furthermore, to be signed to a top US record label, Universal Nashville. The reasons for this were pretty obvious during this show. They press all the right buttons – they looked great, they came across as really nice people, they sang some catchy songs really well together and they can wring emotion out of the audience as required. What else would you want from a country act?

On an overcast evening in G12, Grey Nashville Skies felt a particularly appropriate opener, the splendid four piece band giving Earle and Rhodes some muscular backing. The set featured the best of their two albums, Brave and My Universe, and ranged from their particular brand of pop country, such as All Over Again, Jekyll and Hyde and set closer A Thousand Hallelujahs, through slightly more introspective tunes, like Save Me and Just Wanna Love You, to the downright tear jerker, Daddy’s Little Girl. Rhodes explained that her father had succumbed to cancer when she was eight and that she had written the song to come to terms with it. Not a dry eye in the house and a truly beautiful performance of the song. Unlikely country stars they may be, but stars they are, nonetheless.