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Ryan Kinder, Borderline, London live review

The total package of fantastic vocals, great guitar playing and engaging stage presence.

Ryan Kinder
Credit: Warner Music Nashville

Despite having amassed over 39 million streams on Spotify, it’s fair to say that Ryan Kinder was a relatively unknown name in the UK country scene until his appearances at C2C Festival over the weekend. Suddenly it felt like people couldn’t stop talking about the singer-songwriter – particularly after his performance on Sunday night – and so I was keen to see him supporting Ashley McBryde at London’s Borderline last night.

Kinder opened his set with On My Way, a classic rock-inspired number which highlighted the bluesy tones and growl in his voice. One of the things that struck me most about him was his vocal range; he made the deep, snarly verses look just as effortless as the big high notes towards the end. He also had great stage presence, throwing out high kicks and jamming with his band and talented backing singers, who he referred to as ‘the sass squad’.

This set the tone for the rest of the set, which was a high-energy performance filled with plenty of soul on songs such as the driving Alabama, the Motown-influenced Love And Happiness and the hard rock of new song Blame. Throughout the show Kinder showed off his impressive vocal talents, particularly in his runs on Close with its funky bassline, and the ballad Use Me Right which brought out the smoky tones and passion in his voice. He also performed several fantastic guitar solos, with fingers flying up and down the neck of the guitar as he got lost in the music. It’s a side of him people may not have seen before and I was seriously impressed.

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Kinder’s final two songs were Still Believe In Crazy Love, a mellow midtempo track which allowed his rich vocals to soar whilst maintaining a gravelly edge, and his new single Leap Of Faith. For me the latter summed up everything about his show – it’s a punchy number with fuzzy guitars, stomping drumbeats and a slinky 70s rock-style groove that’s impossible not to dance to. He then returned after Ashley McBryde’s set for an encore, taking the lead on a soulful version of Tennessee Whiskey and showing off the power in his voice on the Marshall Tucker Band’s Can’t You See. The blend of his and McBryde’s voices was perfect and I’d love to hear them record together in future.

Overall I was wowed by Kinder’s performance. I overheard a fellow audience member describe him as ‘John Mayer with belt’ and for me that sums him up perfectly. He’s the total package of fantastic vocals, great guitar playing and engaging stage presence, and I predict big things for him in the future. Here’s hoping he’ll be back in the UK soon and show an even bigger crowd just what he can do.


Set list: 1. On My Way 2. Alabama 3. Close 4. Hard Work 5. Use Me Right 6. Love And Happiness 7. Blame 8. Still Believe In Crazy Love 9. Leap Of Faith Performance date: 12th March 2018

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