When I told people I was going to see Charles Esten, I was usually met with a confused “who?” which, unless you are a fan of the TV show Nashville, is totally fair enough. Esten featured on that show as Deacon, one of the main guitar-playing country-singing characters through the entire run.
And so, even though I didn’t really know much of him outside of this show, seeing him pop up in Bristol during a small tour of the UK meant instant ticket purchase. The pre-concert research included finding out that he doesn’t have an album because he was focused on releasing 54 singles, one a week, to break a Guinness World Record. He called it Every Single Friday, which is a bit of genius.
His new song, A Road and a Radio, is excellent and I listened to a handful of songs to get a feel for the guy, and solid country music is what I was expecting.
It ended up being so much more. I guess it was what artists call an ‘intimate’ gig, which meant he could engage with the crowd so much better, and vice versa, even wishing someone a happy birthday at one point. But the show was more of an entertainment piece, a variety of genres and styles from country to rock and even a stripped back section in the middle.
When he kicked into a version of Only You by Yazoo, well, that’s me a fan for life. I love that song intensely and this was a great version with fantastic crowd control and by the end, Esten seemed just as moved as we all did.
A couple of days after the show in Bristol, Esten rocked up to the Royal Albert Hall and knocked the socks off the audience there too. Seems like the guy is comfortable in front of any size audience. I’m hoping for an album soon that I can get my teeth into because the wonky playlist I put together of 50+ songs is unwieldy at best. And in the meantime, it’s fine to just keep listening to Only You over and over, isn’t it?