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Chris Shiflett The Water Rats, London live review

The Foo Fighters lead guitarist flew solo to promote his latest record.

Chris Shiflett
Credit: Brantley Gutierrez

Earlier this year Chris Shiflett released his third solo album West Coast Town, an upbeat and fun record that allowed him to further define his identity as a musician outside of the Foo Fighters. Over the years Shiflett has been part of many bands but since 2002 he’s been the lead guitarist for the Foo Fighters. In 2010 Shiflett released his first country record Chris Shiflett & the Dead Peasants, which he followed up in 2013 with All Hat and No Cattle. Last night he took to the stage at the intimate London venue The Water Rats for a solo acoustic show in support of West Coast Town.

Shiflett opened his set with a rendition of the Buck Owens classic I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail. It was a good indication of what was to come over the course of the night and it highlighted where Shiflett draws inspiration from for his own brand of country music. For the most part the set list for the evening was made up of West Coast Town, with all 10 tracks being performed. Intermittently Shiflett performed covers from some of country’s greats including Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings.

Known for his prowess on the guitar, Shiflett didn’t disappoint delivering impressive riffs and solos, most notably on the punchy track Cherry. Having played guitar since being a kid, Shiflett makes it look easy and he plays with such passion. He also displayed a very good sense of humour, regularly making the audience laugh with his banter between songs even jokingly berating us during one song for underappreciating his guitar solo.

Shiflett’s own music is buoyant and fun. Played only on acoustic guitar, the songs all stand up and actually you didn’t really miss the backing of a band (although earlier in the day Shiflett told me that he planned to do a band tour in the UK at some point). Current single Sticks and Stones was an early highlight as was the fantastic Blow Out the Candles, one of the standouts on the West Coast Town album.

Nashville star Sam Palladio, who supported Shiflett last night, joined him on stage for a cover of Waylon Jennings’ Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way. The two worked well together and you see their genuine friendship shine through during the performance.

Elsewhere in the set Shiflett put his spin on Merle Haggard’s Holding Things Together, performed his take on a love song with Still Better Days (after telling the audience he just isn’t the soppy kind), and got the room dancing along to West Coast Town. For his encore, Shiflett returned to the stage to perform another track from Haggard, Swinging Doors.

Shiflett really entertained last night and his talent is clear to see. My only complaint is that it might have been nice for Shiflett to pull out a few tracks from his other two albums and work them into the set but overall it was a fantastic show that showcased a truly talented musician. I’ll be interested to see him perform with a full band but if he only ever toured solo acoustic here in the UK, I’d be just as happy to go and see him again.

 

Set list: 1. I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail (Buck Owens cover) 2. Sticks and Stones 3. Girl’s Already Gone 4. Goodnight Little Rock 5. Blow Out the Candles 6. Mrs America 7. I’m Still Drunk 8. Holding Things Together (Merle Haggard cover) 8. Room 102 9. Cherry 10. Tonight’s Not Over 11. Still Better Days 12. Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way with Sam Palladio (Waylon Jennings cover) 13. West Coast Town 14. Swinging Doors (Merle Haggard cover) Performance date: 14th June 2017

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