This is Darius Rucker’s first UK tour since his country career took off spectacularly in the United States – and the audience in London appears to be a mix of people who were fans of Hootie & the Blowfish (for whom he was lead singer) and those that have fallen for his award winning country-pop.
Given this lengthy absence (only broken by a support slot for Brad Paisley and a performance at the Country To Country Festival over the last few years) it is no surprise to see Shepherd’s Bush Empire packed full.
It’s perhaps also no surprise – given this demographic – that the set includes a few old Hootie favourites. One of which Rucker explains was the first country song he wrote when he was a kid – Let Her Cry. It shows how his move to Nashville was perhaps less surprising than some see it – given that his former band were heavily influenced by country-rock. Solo material like True Believers leans heavily on his Nineties style, but the likes of Southern State of Mind are far more obviously country.
The biggest cheers of the night are for those country anthems, the likes of Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It and It Won’t Be Like This For Long from his debut country album are surrounded by newer material, including the cheeky and overly catchy 2014 single Hometown Honey.
The overall mood is far less ‘country’ than some gigs featuring Nashville’s finest – with hardly any cowboy boots in sight and only two stetsons spotted. The mood is somewhat subdued for much of the show – until a rousing encore featuring Rucker’s cover of Wagon Wheel and his excellent take on Champagne Supernova.
This is a gig which underlines how easy the cross over from certain genres is. After all – Taylor Swift’s taken some of her country audience with her into pop, while Rucker’s taken some of his rock fans into country. The only mystery – after seeing a performance like this in front of a packed venue – is why country music still has the stigma of uncool in the UK. The audience here is totally middle-aged. In the US the profile would be a lot younger. It’s a mystery very few of the audience in London care about. They’re just happy to have finally got to see their man.
Darius Rucker set list
Radio (from True Believers, 2013)
Heartbreak Road (from True Believers, 2013)
This (from Charleston, SC 1966, 2010)
Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It (from Learn to Live, 2008)
Time (from Hootie & the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View, 1994)
Pink Houses (John Mellencamp cover)
Homegrown Honey (single, 2014)
Southern State of Mind (from Charleston, SC 1966, 2010)
Let Her Cry (from Hootie & the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View, 1994)
Exodus (from Back to Then, 2002)
Alright (from Learn to Live, 2008)
Shine (from True Believers, 2013)
Family Tradition (Hank Williams, Jr. cover)
Hold My Hand (from Hootie & the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View, 1994)
It Won’t Be Like This for Long (from Learn to Live, 2008)
Only Wanna Be With You (from Hootie & the Blowfish’s Cracked Rear View, 1994)
Come Back Song (from Charleston, SC 1966, 2010)
East Bound and Down (Jerry Reed cover)
True Believers (from True Believers, 2013)
Wagon Wheel (from True Believers, 2013)
Champagne Supernova (Oasis cover)
more from music-news.com