When I got invited to this showcase for Ward Thomas it couldn’t have come at a better time. The world contrived such that I had to cancel all the gigs I had planned to go to at weekends for a few months, which meant no Yee Haw UK last month and no Fort San Antone Fest next weekend. That also meant two chances to see Ward Thomas perform gone.
So this past Wednesday I made my way to the very ornate and quite massive St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, and joined a throng of media personnel in front of a Ward Thomas themed stage in the Booking Office Bar. As they did when I saw them in July, they started the set off with a cover of Loretta Lynn’s Take My Man. Finding out a bit more about Catherine and Lizzy, it’s nice to discover it’s because they are huge fans of the lady herself that they sing this song, and not because someone has told them this would be a good song for them to perform.
I think that’s one of the things I like most about Ward Thomas and their music – they know what they like, they know what they want to write about, and they do just that. Far too often these days, and especially in the mainstream country music scene, artists are writing for record companies and to ride the waves of trends they see being successful for others. Ward Thomas manage to have a sound that sounds fresh and modern, whilst staying true to their own values and passions. Even more encouraging is that success is coming with that, having spent 5 weeks as the number 1 selling country music album in the UK, and 11 weeks on they have only slipped to number 4, ahead of recent releases from Nashville heavyweights such as Brad Paisley and Kenny Chesney.
At Tuesday’s showcase they kept it predominantly upbeat, filling the historic location with the sounds of their UK country music number 1 single Push For The Stride, previous release The Good And The Right, and current single Way Back When. We didn’t get either of the two standout ballads from the album, From Where I Stand and Try, but we did get the new ballad Cartwheels, which I heard for the first time back in July. If his is indicative of their second album, we have one every bit as good as From Where We Stand coming at some point in the future.
On stage the girls were as natural as they always are, and that’s a huge part of their charm. Watching Ward Thomas perform you can’t help but smile, as their vocals are sublime, while their happy personas are hugely infectious. Around me I could see reporters and writers swaying to the tunes, whilst hearing them comment about how good they sounded. I felt proud, as both a fan of Ward Thomas and the UK country music scene, that they were received so well.
There were a couple of feedback issues, and though she did ask for the level to be raised, Catherine’s mic was never quite loud enough. Aside from that it was 45 minutes of crowd impressing modern country music, performed with class, energy and those telepathic harmonies that only the Ward Thomas sisters can pull off. They finished the set with Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, making sure to get us all singing along too. The bar was buzzing with post gig chat, and I’d imagine Ward Thomas are now firmly on the music press radar. Job done.
Take My Man (Loretta Lynne cover)
The Good & The Right
Way Back When
Push For The Stride
Budapest (George Ezra Cover)
Take That Train
Town Called Ugley
9 to 5 (Dolly Parton Cover)
Music-News.com caught up with Ward Thomas after the gig, and chatting about a number of topics, we get some insight into the new Way Back When video and the song writing fortnight they have just had with writer friends Rebekah Powell and Jess Sharman. One thing they did mention is being big fans of Simon and Garfunkel, so I’m putting my request out there now – a cover of Bridge Over Troubled Water please!
Chatting to them after the gig, Lizzy and Catherine seemed overjoyed with the evening, and touched at the turnout, who may have been invited on a professional level, but enjoyed their music on a personal one. From Where We Stand is still the most played album in my house, and Ward Thomas are still top of my list of acts to catch live. I can’t see that changing any time soon.
Click here for a full album of photos from the gig.