Day 3 of Country Music Week brought us to Colours, the new name for Hoxton Bar & Grill, for a show that already had to be relocated due to public demand. The interior of the bar itself has had a refit and the venue also has been startlingly transformed, the most obvisous addition being some kind of light canopy that hangs over the audience. They have obviously spent a lot of money on the venues lighting rig which is horrendously over the top for tonights requirements and so we are treated to the sight of solo singer songwriters performing while War Of The World style spot lights patrol the stage as if coming from some alien craft. It seemed a case of we've spent the money and we are going to use it regardless of whether it detracts from the show or not. There did also seem to be lots of smoke affects with towards the end seemed to be causing Tenille some difficulties in breathing to wards the end of the set.
Emily Hackett, put in a short but versatile set that would show off many different facets of her songwriting and performing. Initially, things could not have started much worse, with an equipment issue causing buzzing and so the opening five minutes left her on stage with no way of starting. She even had to use up one of anecdotes normally saved for between show patter, it was the stuff of nightmares that could easily have rocked her confidence, instead she would deliver a little gem of a set that really marked her out as being someone really special, a lot of the plaudits will naturally come for Tenille but this second set of the night was equally entertaining.
Starting with "Once In a While", with a gently Beatlesque picked guitar line providing the basis for a delightful melody, for a song covering the thought of thinking about a previous relationship. With a perfect delivery she had the audience in the palm of her hand from the very start. next up it was "Gave Him Away" also from her "By The Moon" EP that followed that covered the effects of falling for a friend and how that changes the dynamic. The verse built around a repeated riff while the chorus opened out into some more expressive guitar playing and some bolder captivating singing that held the room spellbound.
From the same EP, came "Easy", which is currently being played on Nashville Lightning 100, it came with a more expressive style of guitar playing and singing, still showing her ear for a great tune. in a change of mood, Emily's attempt at writing a song about her husband followed, with a choppy guitar style and sassy fast delivery, "This Is My Version Of A Love Song" was again stylistically something different while at the same time still attention grabbing.
The final two songs saw Emily go to her "By The Sun" EP for a song about growing up too fast as a 13 year old, "Josie" was a loving advice song which saw Emily's guitar playing up yet another notch and saw her jumping a little as she upped the intensity of her playing. Her closing song was form the same EP and was her first ever song, "Nostalgia", this time in another style change marrying a snappily delivered verse packed with personal observations to a cracking chorus of "N n n Nostalgia". Complete with a little audience participation and some nostalgic snippets of other songs such as Goo Goo Dolls "Black Balloon", Michelle Branch's "All You Wanted", and Vertical Horizon's "Everything You Want" before returning to her own chorus, it was a lovely touch and a perfect way to finish.
The ground work for the success of Tenille's whow tonight was actually laid 12 months earlier during the previous Country Music Week. A stunning blink and you missed it set supporting Brothers Osborne with a selection of songs that reached into your chest and grabbed your heart they were that intense and immediate. The impression made during that seat and the initial few releases only adding to her allure of being someone special,
Coming on to the stage, she was already smiling carrying her personalised guitar for her first ever headline show anywhere, let along in another country. Immediately starting with one of her big songs "Where You Are", her voice a mix of power yet always with a hint of vulnerability, and she immediately lightened the mood by mentioning that the line about "cutting down trees" was "strictly metaphorical". As the song ended she was already welling up with emotion at the reception she was receiving.
Like Emily before her Tenille is not above generating some noise with her acoustic and "The Way You Looked Tonight" had some great playing and some power vocals. There was no let up in the pace of the opening and immediately we were thrown into the back story behind "Jersey" which is an emotional roller coaster in itself before the song had even started. The song itself starts with just Tenille and her barely played guitar, it doesn't need to be played we all know the tune!! Eventually on the chorus Tenille hears the audience singing and stops to let the audience take over on vocal duties and when the song completes Tenille is again moved to tears - having never heard anyone sing along to it before.
To continue the singalong mood, there was a cover of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking for", with her high heels acting as a kick drum, this was a spirited powerful version.
The next song "The Thing That Wrecks You", co written with Kate York and Silver Seas frontman and Producer extraordinaire Daniel Tashian, is going to be on the new Lady Antebellum record. On hearing Tenille's version it seems an unlikely choice but that is probably because her voice is so distinctive, it certainly comes with a big almost Roy Orbison like chorus.
An attempt to teach the audience the "whoa oh oh oh" part of the next song "White Horse", proved to be a waste of 5 seconds, for as soon she started the whole song proved to be a duet between singer and audience. A lovely story about her Grandmother who has passed on was a lovely lead into "When I Meet My Maker" which had some very subtle gently picked guitar to with Tenille's astounding vocal. it was time to barely play the guitar again for "I Kept The Roses" which was once again turned into something of a communal singalong. A teaser for the forthcoming album came with "Holding Out For The One" which when it appears will apparently be somewhat anthemic and swathed in guitars
A Keith Urban cover of "Stupid Boy" was a nice distraction before the intensity of "Somebody's Daughter", another audience duet. and another huge ovation. To close the main set out Tenille headed off to an old Etta James hit "At Last" which she gave some real power to as she sang the blues. Before the mass hugging began there was time for an encore, her first ever encore of course, the last song on the forthcoming record.
An emotional night for both audience and performer and with a date at the O2 in front of 19.000 or so people to come next year - times are only going to get more amazing for Tenille Townes.