The Shires were welcomed back with thunderous applause and rapturous whooping on their second visit to North Wales this week. After a sold-out debut as part of the My Universe tour 18 months ago, the country duo returned to Venue Cymru with a bigger, bolder and brasher set as part of their Accidentally on Purpose tour. Such a step up in set design, lighting and volume perfectly illustrates the rising stardom and popularity of these leading lights on the UK country music scene. Yet despite all the flashing lights and large-scale scenery, it is still their captivating vocals and inspired storytelling that steal the show. Not to say that the neon sign that flashed to the beat of the bass centre stage announcing their name wasn’t impressive. As an entrance, it was certainly memorable. And the large-scale square blocks planted either side of the stage were brilliantly lit up with an array of colours that made for a visually-satisfying accompaniment to feel-good songs such as Guilty and Echo. On a personal level though, nothing quite beats the single spotlight upon a white piano with the two singing State Lines and Loving You Too Long. Whenever I hear their glorious harmonies, I’m instantly fixed to my seat, in awe not only of their talent but the transcendent sound that they create. Simply beautiful. I could have easily sat for another 90 minutes, and by the reaction of the audience at the end, I think most would have joined me. In between songs they told stories of their Nashville experiences with humour and fondness. At times, they complimented one another, expressing genuine admiration and respect. And in their thanks to fans, they seemed genuinely humbled by the reception to their music. It seems that they still can’t quite believe that they are where they are. Yet they really are where they are – selling out large concert venues, headlining the Royal Albert Hall, consistently on the BBC Radio 2 playlist. This show was made with such lofty ambitions in mind. And it works brilliantly, allowing them to create a more expansive and ambitious soundscape whilst giving them opportunity to strip it back to the bare essentials when needed. It is perfect for their blend of uplifting country-pop and slow, heartfelt ballads. Let’s hope it’s not too long before we see them playing here again. North Wales deserves another slice of this big-time country music.
Click here for more tour dates.