The Shires at Towersey Festival Monday 27th August 2018

It’s been an incredibly busy and exciting year so far for Ben and Crissie ( the only introduction they now need, I’m sure!). The release of their latest album “ Accidentally on Purpose” and associated UK tour, their most extensive to date, has been followed by a string of festival appearances and of course they still have the honour of opening for the legend that is Shania Twain on her dates over here in the Autumn.

Excited to find out that the duo were the closing headliners at my local music festival, Towersey in Oxfordshire, of course I couldn’t pass on the chance to see them again ( having caught them on tour ) and wow, what a fantastic way to round off this wonderful three day event! Having only seen them “ preaching to the converted ”, so to speak, at their own concerts it was great to see them get such a wonderful reception from festival goers who may not have necessarily known their music. Of course there were some dedicated followers in the crowd, including some young girls next to me who were almost exploding with excitement at the thought of seeing their idols for the first time, but Ben and Crissie’s infectious energy, endearing personalities and great music quickly won them new fans of all ages I have no doubt.

Crissie looked as stunning as ever, complete with her now almost legendary sparkly boots matched with festival facial glitter especially for the occasion, and the duo were accompanied by their truly excellent band which included pedal steel on several numbers. Ben as usual switched effortlessly between acoustic guitar, piano and keyboards with Crissie concentrating on vocals and working the crowd with a confidence that has definitely grown over the years. But I must say I love how Ben is increasingly involved in vocals these days, making for more variety and also helping forge a better connection between the pair onstage. The sound throughout was superb, by the way, full credit to the festival.

Their 75 minute set was a great mix of fun, uptempo songs such as “ Friday Night”, “ Guilty” and “ Tonight” which were definitely crowd pleasers and beautiful ballads ( highlights for me being “ State Lines ” and “ Sleepwalk” ) which really demonstrated the strength of their individual vocals and harmonies. Whether it was singing along, holding cell phone torches up high or simply enjoying some heartfelt songwriting, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

There was a good representation from throughout their catalogue to date, and introductions to several of the songs were both entertaining and informative, which of course was particularly relevant to those not already familiar with them. For example we heard how “ Nashville Grey Skies” was the first song they released at the very start of what Ben described as their “ crazy dream” and that “ Friday Night” was the first song that they wrote together.

One cover was included, a beautiful acoustic version of “ Islands in The Stream” which the duo recorded several years ago as their contribution to BBC Radio 2’s “ Sounds of the’ 80’s ” CD, and it was definitely a popular choice that of course everyone in the crowd seemed to know even if they didn’t admit to being a country music fan!

Judging by the comments I overheard while leaving I was not the only one who considered The Shires to be the perfect festival closer…….yes, if it’s a crime to have a good time then we were definitely all guilty!

SETLIST
Echo
My Universe
State Lines
Friday Night
All Over Again
Accidentally On Purpose
I Just Wanna Love You
Daddy’s Little Girl
The Hard Way
Sleepwalk
Guilty
Nashville Grey Skies
River Of Love
Tonight

ENCORE
Made In England
Islands In The Stream
A Thousand Hallelujahs

Review written by and photo credits to Lesley Hastings (twitter.com/lesleyhastings)

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