This summer music drama Nashville will wave goodbye to viewers after six seasons on air. The show has overcome plenty of hurdles to get a six-season run and fans were a bit surprised when it was announced that the show’s sixth season, its second on CMT, would be its last. As has become an annual tradition, some of the show’s cast have embarked on another tour celebrating the music of the show and treating fans to their original material too. Billed as the Farewell UK Tour, the latest jaunt features Jonathan Jackson, Sam Palladio, Chris Carmack, Charles Esten and Clare Bowen and last night they arrived at London’s The O2 Arena.
The show opened with Even If It Breaks Your Heart, which featured all five cast members performing together. It was a rousing start to a night that was both a celebration of the show’s music and an emotional goodbye. As with previous tours the set list comprised of solo moments for each of the stars as well as collaborations over a two-act set with an interval in the middle. There were plenty of great song choices from across the six seasons and most of the fan-favourites featured. Jonathan Jackson was the first of the five to perform solo and he took fans all the way back to season one for Keep Asking Why.
One of the things that has always worked so well about the Nashville tours is just how different every member of the cast’s sound is and that’s in part thanks to the backing of their incredible band headed up by Colin Linden. Jonathan Jackson is the most intense of the five with Belfast Child proving one of the more brooding moments of the evening whereas Clare Bowen is lighter and cheerier delivering upbeat songs such as original track Tide Rolls In. Chris Carmack gets the bigger anthem-like songs such as What If I Was Willing and I’m On It and Sam Palladio adds a touch of folk, particularly on songs such as Wake Me Up In Nashville. Charles Esten, who invoked huge screams from the audience whenever he stepped on stage, is the most passionate of the five performers and that was most evident on his fantastic original track Whiskey Lips.
For me some of the most special moments of the night came when the cast members collaborated. The bromance between Palladio and Carmack is infectious and they really shined on Right Where You Want Me and it was nice to see Jackson join forces with them for Go With It, a song taken from the latest season. Bowen and Esten ran out into the audience during the delightfully uptempo Hand to Hold, posing for photos and dancing with fans. Bowen and Palladio sent shivers through the audience with their stunning rendition of season one favourite Fade Into You.
Of the solo moments there were plenty of highlights. Jackson showcased his remarkable range during a rendition of Unchained Melody, which received a standing ovation and almost reduced Jackson to tears. He looked completely overwhelmed and was genuinely surprised at the reaction he received. Carmack’s best moment came on the funky Moving On Never Felt So Good and Palladio’s was on The Hell Of It Is where he played drums whilst singing. Bowen soared on the gorgeous but heart-breaking Black Roses and Esten worked a cover of Oasis’ Don’t Look Back in Anger into Good Rain or Jesus. Esten’s other moment of glory came on the emotional Sanctuary, which he dedicated to a security guard present at The O2 after he survived the terrorist attack on London Bridge and saved the lives of many people. There was barely a dry eye in the house after that performance.
For the encore the cast came together to perform A Life That’s Good. That song has become the show’s unofficial anthem and the audience happily sung along to every word. As the song came to its final bars, the emotion in the crowd was palpable and every one of the Nashville cast members looked pretty emotional too.
As the lights came on, I couldn’t quite believe that was the last time I’ll see the Nashville cast on tour. Frankly I’m still baffled as to why CMT chose to end the show after only picking it up for two seasons. There’s so much love and passion in the UK for Nashville and the music the show has produced over the years. Esten assured the audience that all five of cast members would be back either individually or together in some way in the future, and I’m excited to see what they do next. Last night’s show was a perfect celebration of a show many of us Country fans have taken to our heart and it showcased five very different, but all incredible, performers.
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Set list: 1. Even If It Breaks Your Heart (Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio, Chris Carmack, Jonathan Jackson and Charles Esten) 2. Keep Asking Why (Jonathan Jackson) 3. I’m On It (Chris Carmack) 4. What If I Was Willing (Chris Carmack) 5. Right Where You Want Me (Chris Carmack and Sam Palladio) 6. Adios Old Friend (Sam Palladio and Chris Carmack) 7. The Hell Of It Is (Sam Palladio) 8. Belfast Child (Jonathan Jackson) 9. Let It Rain (Clare Bowen) 10. Black Roses (Clare Bowen) 11. Hand to Hold (Clare Bowen and Charles Esten) 12. Sideshow (Charles Esten) 13. Good Rain Or Jesus / Don’t Look Back In Anger (Charles Esten) 14. Don’t Come Easy (Chris Carmack) 15. Moving On Never Felt So Good (Chris Carmack) 16. Wake Me Up In Nashville (Sam Palladio) 17. Goin’ Electric (Sam Palladio and Chris Carmack) 18. Go With It (Sam Palladio, Chris Carmack and Jonathan Jackson) 19. A Shock To The System (Jonathan Jackson) 21. Unchained Melody (Jonathan Jackson) 22. Borrow My Heart (Sam Palladio, Clare Bowen and Jonathan Jackson) 23. Fade Into You (Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen) 24. Tide Rolls In (Clare Bowen and Brandon Young) 25. When The Right One Comes Along (Clare Bowen) 25. Whiskey Lips (Charles Esten) 26. Sanctuary (Charles Esten) 27. He Ain’t Me 28. A Life That’s Good (Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio, Chris Carmack, Jonathan Jackson and Charles Esten) Performance date: 21st April 2018
The Music Of Nashville Original Soundtrack Season 6 Volume 1 and The Music Of Nashville: Greatest Hits Seasons 1-5 are available now through Big Machine Records.