LIVE REVIEW: Nashville In Concert at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena

Last night(April 20th) the epic Nashville in Concert tour arrived in Cardiff and what ensued was a night of magical music that will last in the memories of the capacity crowd for eternity. The Farewell UK Tour is the last chance for fans of the hit US drama to see the stars live and Clare Bowen, Chris Carmack, Charles Esten, Jonathan Jackson and Sam Palladio didn’t disappoint as they arrived in the capital city of Wales for their debut Welsh show.

As the arena was plunged into darkness the concert kicked off with Esten singing the pilot episode’s first ever song ‘Back Home’ before he welcomed his co-stars onto the stage to huge cheers. It was a fantastic way to start the show and allowed all the singers to shine vocally before their solo performances took place.

Jonathan Jackson was the first to take to the stage on his own with a wonderful, haunting rendition of ‘Keep Asking Why, and an intense cover of ‘Belfast Child’. The show carried on with other cast members arriving on stage at various times to either collaborate or perform on their own.

After the intensity of Jackson’s set, Chris Carmack brought a fun energy with his fun jokes and faultless performance of Nashville tracks including ‘What If I Was Willing’ which was a real highlight of the night. Chris also opened up about how much he will miss playing Will Lexington and celebrated with the brilliant ‘Movin’ On Never Felt So Good’.

Sam Palladio arrived on stage to a rapturous applause – the British star admitted that Cardiff was a special show to him as it is the closest to a home gig he is going to get. He was born and raised in Cornwall and has family from Swansea. His vocal prowess was incredible and his musicianship out of this world as he played both guitar and drums. He performed a number of tracks including ‘Adios Old Friend’ which was his goodbye to his character Gunnar Scott.

Clare Bowen’s solo performance changed the energy in the arena and something mesmerising took place as she performed the compelling ‘Black Roses’. Bowen has an hypnotic energy and just draws you in with her sweet vocal. As she performed this stunning ballad the capacity crowd connected in a way I have never witnessed before and all rose to their feet as the last notes ran out. Bowen was overcome with emotion as the rapturous applause became deafening and went on for several minutes as the crowd and performer revelled in the track’s message. This was a really special moment in the show and ignited a real electricity in what the cast called the “best and rowdiest audience of the tour”  

After ‘Black Roses’ Clare, wiping tears away-clearly moved by the audiences reaction welcomed Charles Esten back on stage as the energy in the room shifted once again to full on sing and dance-a-long mode as they performed the energitic, fun ‘Hand To Hold’. The mood shifted from sombre, heartfelt connection to a connection of pure love as Bowen and Esten went all out, going into the crowd and just bringing the energy like never before. One again the arena rose to their feet as the infectious tune took hold.

After the interval the feel-good synergy continued and a real standout moment of the second-half was when Sam, Chris, and Jonathan sang ‘Go With It’ which is an up-beat country/rock track taken from season 6. The crowd sang along to every word and happiness radiated from all around.

During the second half we were also treated to the stunning vocal stylings of Bowen once again as she performed a stunning, note-perfect rendition of ‘When The Right One Comes Along’ where she was accompanied on guitar by her husband Brandon Young. This was a really sweet moment and the crowd fell in love once again with her spine-tingling voice.

Another major highlight was when Palladio performed his self-penned track ‘Wake Me Up In Nashville’ which is about the real-life story of his grandfather who missed out on saying goodbye to his girlfriend when he was leaving for the war. It was a heartfelt moment and once again the roof almost came off as Sam was bowled over by awe-inspiring cheers. Another wonderful moment with Sam was when he sang ‘Going Electric’ which is a fun, rock number that will be Gunnar’s last song on the show.

One the most vocally outstanding moments was when Sam and Clare sang ‘Fade Into You’ which is symbolic to the whole Nashville fanbase. It’s a really special song and was a beautiful moment during the gig last night.

Jonathan Jackson had a wonderful, bittersweet moment on stage when he admitted that while he loves touring and performing live around the world he is understandably missing his wife and three children. After his poignant speech he dedicated his cover of ‘Unchained Melody’ to Mrs Jackson. As soon as he started singing his haunting vocals took a hold and the arena was lit up by phone lights as the whole crowd stood up to sing-a-long, it was almost church like as the 5,000 strong audience connected on another level and loud cheers silenced Jackson as he tried to thank the crowd. He was visibly moved by the reaction and this was one of the stand-out moments of the whole concert and proved how powerful music is.

Charles Esten brought the energy once again when he cracked jokes about Rayna Jaymes almost marrying Luke Wheeler which got the crowd booing and Esten laughing saying “I knew I liked you”. He then performed ‘He Ain’t Me’ which is a real fan favourite. The auditorium was then plunged into silence as Charles performed the stunning ‘Sanctuary’. He then  lifted the energy once again with an outstanding cover of Oasis’ hit ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’. The lights were turned on as the crowd rose to their feet once again to belt out the heartfelt chorus as Esten once again went into the adoring crowd. This was an incredible moment and you could feel the whole crowd becoming one as they stood in solidarity and with pure love.

As the night started drawing to a close the whole audience were on their feet and applauded each cast member and the entire backing musicians with gusto. The encore arrived and it was time for the classic prayer song ‘A Life’s That Good’. This stunning piece of music means everything to the Nashville fanbase and the audience sang along to every single lyric, Esten recognised the Welsh crowd knew the words so allowed them to sing back the song, it was a spine-tingling moment and embodied everything about the country music community. It was a real, beautiful moment that will last long in the memory of everyone there that night.

It was an incredible concert and one of the best live experiences I have ever witnessed, there was a special feel at the Motorpoint arena and an electric vibe. It was absolutely fantastic and standing ovations throughout showed how much the music was connecting. By end of the night the crowd had left their seats and had created a sea in front of the stage akin to what you would see at a standing only gig, this again was something I’d never seen before and highlighted how much everyone was feeling the vibes of the connection that was happening.

RATING 5/5

Were you at the Nashville concert in Cardiff last night? Let us know your experience over on Twitter @CelebMix.  

Written by Laura Klonowski

Qualified music journalist! Writing single/album/live reviews, feature articles, interviews, and news pieces.
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