On Wednesday evening I headed into west London to the Troubadour to see Jeannine Barry perform live for the first time. After a cheeky pint in the pub that is right next door to the venue, I headed in and found myself heading down a small flight of stairs at the back of a restaurant. This was a little bit surreal and I had thoughts that I might end up in Narnia when I reached the bottom, but fortunately I ended up in a great music venue instead. The Troubadour has a stage in the corner, with tables and chairs dotted all around, somewhat similar to the Green Note in Camden in some ways, only on a larger scale and as a country music venue it is ideal.
The first act up on the night was Katy Hurt and I have to say I was really impressed. She performed five or six numbers and she has a voice that is made for country music. Katy has a confidence that belies her young age and it’s a sure thing that there is a fine future ahead for the singer. The highlight of the set for me was her cover of Chris Stapleton’s ‘Whiskey and You’, a brave move, but one that certainly paid off – this was simply brilliant.
Next on the bill was Thorne Hill. Running a site called Belles and Gals I do feel a little bit of guilt when a male singer comes on, as they won’t feature on the site. Thorne made me feel even guiltier as he was tremendous. The Crewe based singer songwriter manages to perform both the slower and up tempo numbers brilliantly, while he also comes across as very personable on stage. Highlights of the set were the emotional ‘Fly Before I Drown’ and the final number ‘Open Road’, which is fast becoming one of my favourite country songs.
Next up was the star of the evening in Jeannine Barry, looking fantastic in jeans, black boots and a black top, joined by her four strong band. Her opening number was ‘Off the Hook’, which is also the title track and opening song from her latest EP. This country rock number made for the perfect start and much of the early part of the set was indeed from the EP. ‘Us or Drinking’ was a poignant highlight in this early section, while my favourite Jeannine Barry song in ‘Carousel’ came next and it was every bit as good as I hoped it would be. Having listened to her EP more than a few times, it was interesting to me to hear the songs performed live and Jeannine’s great vocals really brought them to life in the live setting.
The second half of the set was just as good, which included her brilliant single ‘All Night’, ‘Burning Bridges’ and the fantastic ‘Whiskey on My Breath’. Possibly the highlight song of the whole night for me was her cover of Maren Morris’s ‘My Church’. I have heard a number of covers of this song in doing research for this site, but Jeannine Barry’s was the best version I’ve heard, the lady truly rocking it, doing great justice to the country song of the moment. It was actually a real disappointment when her set ended, as I could have quite happily watched her all night.
I came away from the night thinking three things. The first was that I really like the Troubadour as a venue, certainly a place I would look forward to going to again. The second was the fact that the two support acts in Katy Hurt and Thorne Hill made for ideal choices and there is no doubt that I would pay to see both of them headline. My final thought was that Jeannine Barry is a real class act and the UK country music scene is lucky to have her – I cannot wait to see her perform again.
Review written by Nick Cantwell
Photographs courtesy of Ben Trombacco (Twitter:@BenTrombacco)