Whoever ordered a slice of Hollywood mixed with a dash of Americana with a country music cherry on top clearly knew what they were doing when they pulled this bill together. I imagine whoever spent the time to find Twinnie, named by Rolling Stone as one of the stand-out acts at the acclaimed Country2Country festival, took more than ’24’ hours to do so. She’s recently been signed to a global major label and a debut album is to follow shortly. Having her open for one of the few Hollywood actors who has managed to carve out a successful and meaningful music career is no small gesture. The opening act needs to ensure they warm the crowd up rather than helping them flatline so what does this young singer have to offer?
That she can sing will come as no surprise to anyone who watched her in West End musicals. With stints in both We Will Rock You and the criminally short lived Rock Of Ages there was an expectation given the rock leanings of those shows that Twinnie would head down the rock route with her own music. As such, the country-focus of her 2016 debut EP was rather surprising.
When we see her live though, everything fits. Her outfit is something straight out of a hit CMT video and her voice, humour and infectious laughter when she chats in between songs ticks every box that is required to sell copious amounts of records to half of America.
The Nashville influences stand proud in Twinnie’s music and the ability to add such insightful and humorous lyrics with songs like Better When I’m Drunk and Daddy Issues shows some real songwriting skill. Poignant, honest and raising a smile, perfect Country fare! Shepherds Bush was lucky to have been able to witness Twinnie so early in her music career.
So is it weird? Can we get away from the fact that on stage is one of the most famous US TV stars of recent years. Everyone and his Nan knows Kiefer Sutherland from 24. Those of us old enough to remember his early films also remember The Brat Pack movies including Young Guns, Flatliners, Stand By Me and the seminal Lost Boys, a film that still gets regular outings in our house.
If you’ve heard either the debut album or this year’s Reckless & Me, the album to which this tour is the focus, then you’ll know that this musical jaunt is no fly-by-night exercise. Kiefer has a great set of chops on him, is more than capable of writing the sort of songs that can make grown men cry (a requisite in Americana and Country Music) and moves around stage as if he’s done it all of his life.
He plays with a band that knows the music and the stage better than most and in Jess Calcaterra, Joseph De La O, Austin Vallejo, Phil Parlapiano and Michael Gurley he has a group of musicians that help make the show truly memorable. His main foil, Austin Vallejo plays some of the meanest solos around, is the sort of guitarist that fires off licks with ease and frees Kiefer up to focus on rhythm guitar, singing and embellishing the songs with some excellent storytelling.
Speaking of storytelling, we got the full lowdown on what happened with his mother and the reason he wrote Saskatchewan. The song has a key moment in it when Kiefer talks about returning home to bury his mother after she has died…
I’m going back to Saskatchewan
To put my mama in the ground
I’m going back to Saskatchewan
To my mama’s little town
Of course, upon landing, Mum is still with us, gradually made a full recovery and eventually Kiefer had a moment to play the song for her to simply show his feelings and love for her. Possibly a mistake, possibly a wonderful gesture but his mother’s response was certainly not what he expected. Her face upon hearing it wasn’t full of love or tears but more concern. Fearful he’d messed up big time, Kiefer asked what was wrong and it transpires that her biggest fear is…
“When I do die, please don’t bury me in Saskatchewan. I never liked that place you know!”
Cue much laughter from the audience and a wide grin from Kiefer who realised his Mum had not lost any of her humour. A great moment, a great story and a wonderful reaction.
That really is what makes the show so special. It’s the interaction with the audience, the storytelling, the explanations about the meaning behind each song. How the album title is about a horse of his called Reckless that he used to ride at rodeos when he competed professionally. Is there anything this multi-talented individual cannot do??
Something You Love, an album highlight also ticks the boxes that make the blue collar men nod in recognition of ‘real life’. He sings about running into an old friend, swapping stories, having a few drinks etc… to discover the local company has closed thanks to budget cuts and setbacks so, cue up tempo break, it’s time to get out there and do… something you love! Springsteen would be proud!
The main set finishes with Down In A Hole, the song Sutherland loves playing live more than any other and the encore also sees Twinnie return for a duet on Calling Out Your Name. A few obligatory covers are scattered throughout the show and the encore also sees a drawn out Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (hopefully not dedicated to Mum again!). All in all this is a man who deserves to be as successful at music as he is at acting. If only all actors could look to Kiefer to see how it should be done…
Can’t Stay Away
Something You Love
Reckless & Me
Open Road (Jude Cole cover)
Faded Pair of Blue Jeans
Blame It on Your Heart (Patty Loveless cover)
Ways to Be Wicked (Lone Justice cover)
I’ll Do Anything
This Is How It’s Done
Run to Him
Honey Bee (Tom Petty cover)
All She Wrote
Down in a Hole
Calling Out Your Name (with Twinnie)
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
The band return next year in February. If you missed them this time, make sure you check out one of the shows below:
UK Tour Dates 2020:
Wednesday 19th February – Ipswich, Corn Exchange
Friday 21st February – Brighton, The Haunt
Saturday 22nd February – Blackburn, King George’s Hall
Sunday 23rd February – Nottingham, Rock City
Tuesday 25th February – Sheffield, Leadmill
Wednesday 26th February – Cambridge, Junction
Thursday 27th February – Liverpool, O2 Academy
Saturday 29th February – Dublin, Academy
Sunday 1st March – Leeds, Stylus
Monday 2nd March – Oxford, O2 Academy
Tickets can be bought at: https://kiefersutherland.