It’s safe to say that Chase Rice has been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride over the last few years. After shooting to fame following an appearance on Survivor, co-writing Florida Georgia Line’s monster hit Cruise and scoring a number one album with 2014’s Ignite The Night, he split with his label and moved away from the ‘bro-country’ tag. Now he’s back with his first album in three years, Lambs And Lions, and has made the trip over to the UK to play a series of sold-out shows.
Rice walked on stage to huge cheers and, after a few minutes waiting to get his guitar, launched into Do It Like This from Ignite The Night. The song’s driving rocky rhythm worked nicely with the gravelly edge to his voice and he showed that he’s a decent guitar player too. Right from the off he was joking with the crowd and had them completely in the palm of his hand as they sang along to every single word. He then went into How She Rolls, with its quick lyrical delivery and good imagery that highlighted his skills as a songwriter.
Throughout the set Rice mixed songs from across his career, with an early focus on the party tracks. He consistently encouraged the audience to join in – not that they needed it! – and came across as very relaxed on stage, regularly breaking off to chat about his experience of touring the UK. I also liked his decision to perform ‘just him and a guitar’ as it gave a different spin to those songs, such as bringing out the rockier aspects on 50 Shades Of Crazy and a stripped-back version of Gonna Wanna Tonight that allowed the richness in his voice to come through.
However I felt Rice really shone in the slower numbers. In particular he showed great control in the emotional Three Chords And The Truth, brought out his gentler, sweeter side on Eyes On You and showed some serious vocal power on Carolina Can. It’s clear these songs mean a lot to him and I felt that they worked really well in the intimate setting of the Borderline.
Rice finished the performance with his version of Cruise, adding a soulful yet still rocky edge to the song, before going into a rock-and-roll influenced take on Ready Set Roll. After rapturous applause from the audience and demands for one more song, he came back out to perform Everybody We Know Does. The simple arrangement allowed his voice to really stand out and he hit some huge notes towards the end!
Overall I enjoyed Rice’s show but wasn’t quite as blown away as I’d expected to be. I’d been interested to see how he would balance the different styles of his two previous albums and think that an acoustic solo set was a great way to do that. However, I felt we only got flashes of the more mature, personal side of him that comes through on Lambs And Lions, and I would have liked to see more of that. He repeatedly promised to come back to the UK next year with a full band show though, so I’m hoping we’ll get to hear some more of those songs then. That said, he had strong vocals and great stage presence, as well as keeping the crowd’s energy up throughout and ultimately put on an excellent show. It won’t be long before he’s selling out much bigger venues here so I’d recommend catching him when he’s back next year.
Set list: 1. Do It Like This 2. How She Rolls 3. 50 Shades Of Crazy 4. I Like Drinking Cause It’s Fun 5. Jack Daniels Showed Up 6. Three Chords And The Truth 7. Eyes On You 8. Gonna Wanna Tonight 9. Carolina Can 10. Ride 11. Cruise (Florida Georgia Line cover) 12. Ready Set Roll 13. Everybody We Know Does Performance date: 5th December 2017