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Ryan Kinder, KOKO, London live review

The US singer-songwriter has been supporting Drake White on his UK tour.

Ryan Kinder
Credit: Warner Music Nashville

Alabama’s Ryan Kinder first came to many country music fans’ attention with his soulful 2016 single Close, which has amassed over 30 million streams on Spotify. Since then he’s been winning over audiences on both sides of the Atlantic, including supporting Ashley McBryde earlier this year and performing at British Summer Time festival in Hyde Park. This week he’s been out on tour with Drake White and The Big Fire, culminating in a show last night at London’s KOKO.

Kinder arrived on stage following a strong opening set from Tenille Townes, along with his acoustic guitar. He opened his performance with I’m On My Way, a powerful driving number with a strong 70s rock influence. Right from the start his bluesy, deep vocals were at the forefront, almost building to a yell in places, and he showed off some impressive vocal runs. After encouraging the crowd to sing along, he delivered a huge note that had the audience roaring their support.

This combination of blues, rock, soul and classic country was apparent throughout Kinder’s set on songs including Alabama – which gave Kinder a chance to show off his storytelling skills – the funky groove of Close and the atmospheric Blame. He came across as incredibly relaxed and comfortable on stage, joking with the audience throughout and dealing with the occasional heckle very well.

Two of the highlights for me came towards the middle of the set. Mine, which Kinder introduced with a story about his audience in Glasgow and his love for how UK fans really listen to songs, was a lilting song with a simple approach that allowed his yearning vocal to shine. Meanwhile, current single Stay took on a traditional feel with the help of violinist John Hughes, whilst being full of raw emotion and producing Kinder’s most passionate performance of the night. Both songs were beautifully uplifting and got enormous cheers from the crowd as they came to a close.

Kinder finished his performance with Still Believe in Crazy Love. It’s a stripped-back, heartfelt ballad which he sang almost a capella. The song was full of conviction and belief, which gave it a very moving feel, and I loved the sense of hopefulness in the lyrics. For the final chorus, Kinder stepped away from his mike and allowed the crowd to sing solo, creating a truly magical moment followed by a roar of approval.

Overall this was another great set from Kinder. It showed off the wide range of influences on his music, as well as his powerful, husky vocals and ability to pack his performances full of emotion. He’s got a style that’s all his own and based on the crowd response it’s safe to say he’s got plenty of fans here in the UK (and no doubt won over a few new ones!). Personally for me he gets better every time I see him and I can’t wait until he comes back over here again.

Set list: 1. I’m On My Way 2. Alabama 3. Close 4. Mine 5. Stay 6. Blame 7. Still Believe In Crazy Love Performance date: 24th October 2018

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