Zac Brown Band
Shepherd’s Bush Empire
1 July 2013
The last time I was at Shepherd’s Bush Empire was to see Brad Paisley and this evening I returned for another night of country music. Support came from Ben Caplan who certainly seemed to succeed in getting the crowd worked up, although I felt like I was mostly being shouted at. He has a big voice and a big personality but getting everyone to scream at the top of their voice felt a little like being part of the audience at a children’s pantomime.
After a short break, Zac Brown Band took to the stage to huge applause from a packed out Empire and opened with Carolina Lullaby, swiftly followed by Whiskey’s Gone and As She’s Walking Away. The fast move through the set continued throughout the evening – there was minimal talking from the band and although I like a bit of banter from bands at concerts, the set was so good that the lack of talking just made room for them to play more great songs, so no complaints here!
Free As We’ll Ever Be had everyone singing along, as did Paradise. Goodbye in Her Eyes was the first point at which they really slowed things down and I think this emotional ballad gave both band and audience some time to recover their energy levels. After You Don’t Seem to Care, Thunder and Lightning made way for an impressive instrumental break that gave all band members the chance to show off. Throughout the show they kept to country tradition, which each band member taking turns during songs to step forward for an instrumental solo. One thing that certainly couldn’t be denied by the end of the night is that not only are these guys great singers and songwriters, their skills as musicians are faultless too.
The highlight of the night for me came in the form of the poignant Guitar in My Hand. Zac introduced it by saying “this is my story” and went on to sing of a deep affiliation with music and how when his final day comes, he hopes to be found with his guitar in my hand. I’d heard the song many times before but somehow having the man himself standing in front of me singing it made it even more touching. Even the gentleman in front of me shed a tear, and was swiftly teased by his friends.
Unfortunately I had to leave just before the end of the show but I most certainly hope the band return to these shores in the not too distant future. It was great to see a true country band get such a good reception on a UK stage.