The UK’s top country music act The Shires paid a visit to Venue Cymru with a fantastic set as part of their My Universe tour. With a packed audience of Welsh country music fans eager to hear their latest material, Ben and Chrissie (along with their band) certainly gave them an unforgettable night. Opening with a set by US vocalist Canaan Smith, whose acoustic performance was full of emotional promise, it was perfectly weighted to prepare the audience for the main event. He was the chalk to The Shires’ cheese. With a No.1 track already on the other side of the Atlantic, he is certainly one to watch for in future. Now though it was The Shires taking centre stage, beginning with one of their best-known singles Nashville (Grey Skies). This eternally-inspiring, feel-good number was the perfect opener for a night that ebbed and flowed between blood-pumping rock and heart-stopping ballads. Of particular note was Chrissie’s performance of Daddy’s Little Girl – a moment to take your breath away – and their soulful rendition of Robbie Williams’ Angels, which they had recently performed, to popular acclaim, on Radio 2 in front of the man himself. The night ended with a spine-tingling ad-lib from the audience, setting the scene perfectly for an encore of the nostalgia-soaked Other People’s Things and their immersive gospel song A Thousand Hallelujahs. For anyone who has not yet caught fire from the rising flames of country music in the UK, The Shires are the perfect place to start. This was Christmas come early for many of their fans. A truly brilliant night.