The Nashville tour made a stop in San Francisco on May 8 for one concert and shined bright. Clare Bowen, Chris Carmack, Charles Esten, Sam Palladio, Aubrey Peeples, and Lennon and Maisy Stella made Ellie G. wish the night would never end.
I took a good friend, fellow music groupie and Nashville fan to the “Nashville in Concert” show last night at the Warfield in San Francisco. We had such a good time I was inspired to write a review.
One of the biggest draws of the Nashville concerts, other than the actors themselves, is the music produced by the show. It’s not uncommon to hear ”I don’t really like country music that much, but I love the music on Nashville!” So it’s not surprising the San Francisco crowd ate up favorites like Black Roses, Believing, A Life that’s God, Fade into You, If your Heart Can Handle It, I’m On It, Heart on Fire, My Song, and I know How to Love you Now,(co-written by Esten) with huge applause and occasional standing ovations.
I personally also enjoyed getting a window into the authentic personalities of these artists through the performances of their original music. Clare Bowne brought her folk vibe with “Drum,” Carmack sang his new sweet original “Being Alone,” and Sam Palladio surprised with his second song “Lightning Bones,” which had a Buddy Holly meets Green Day kind of feel (but made sense of the Doc Martins he was wearing–I kind like that side of Sam).
Aubrey Peeples’ version of ‘Do Right Woman’ showed what I’d suspected, that the songs she’s sung so far on Nashville really don’t do justice to her powerful, shady, deep voice that has a surprising and impressive range. And of course, the Stella sisters were amazing, as always. The tone of their voices is ethereal and mesmerizing, peaceful and haunting at the same time, and their harmonies never get old. It’s obvious music is in their blood and that this is only the start of a long and successful career for them.
And then there’s Charles Esten, who everyone was just excited to see step out on stage. But of course, he did more than that. In fact, he was the first to get everyone out of their seats with his Elvis duet with Bowen “That’s all right Mama.” Later he brought the house down with his own originals, which included a fan favorite “He Ain’t Me.”
Esten brings incredible showmanship and charisma, and the audience loved it. I’m sure I’m not the only who would’ve liked time to down a few more drinks, dance to a few more honky tonk tunes, and continue the musical conversation with Esten and the others. In some ways, it felt as if the party got started just when they had to wind things down.
If there was one drawback to the show, it was just that– that the diversity of styles and lack of time, made it seem that none of the artists really had a chance to settle in. And at certain points, the show felt a little disjointed as a result.
Not to worry– I have a fantasy line-up that includes Esten and Carmack working a crowd and making us swoon (they’re already so good at that), Palladio and Peeples starting a punk rock band, Bowen opening up for Stevie Nicks and the Stella Sisters performing at the CMAS (or anywhere for that matter, they’re so good). Mostly I just want these talented artists to come back to the Bay area again sometime soon to continue the ‘conversation.’ In fact, I suggest coming up here to Sonoma County. We love our country music up here (and our beer and our wine!). We could have a nice, long talk.