Lewis and Isi – otherwise known as Two Ways Home – are certainly one of the hardest-working acts on the UK country scene. Their relentless approach to live performance has taken them all over the country as well as performing at C2C: Country to Country, Country Music Week and Buck N Bull, as well as running their regular songwriters’ night The Round Up in London. It’s paid off by winning them plenty of fans and a loyal following, who helped to successfully crowdfund their upcoming debut album, Break The Silence. Last night their latest tour hit London, with a performance at the legendary Half Moon in Putney.
Accompanied by their three-piece band – guitarist Michael (a regular fixture alongside the duo), drummer Chris and bassist Ellie – Isi and Lewis took the stage shortly after 9pm. They opened their set with Broken Hearts Club, a driving, rocky number with sharp twangy guitars and their trademark lush harmonies. Lewis sounded particularly strong on the track, with his vocals having a great amount of depth and power, whilst Isi’s took on a complementary husky tone. They followed that with the bright, sunny Fall Together, a fan favourite with a rollicking, playful feel that showed we were definitely in for a high-energy performance.
Throughout the next hour and a half, the duo mixed songs from their new album with older material, as well as throwing in a cover of Don Henley’s classic Boys Of Summer which featured an impressive guitar solo from Michael. Isi and Lewis could both be seen throwing themselves into the performance throughout, dancing around the stage and jamming out with their bandmates, and it gave the whole thing a lovely carefree feel. They also had great banter together, bouncing off each other as they cracked jokes and told stories about making their album and their recent Caffe Nero tour, and came across as incredibly relaxed and easy-going.
One thing which struck me during the set was the sheer range of styles the band draw on to create their sound. The atmospheric, bittersweet Rule You, which showcased Isi’s sweet yet rich vocals and an electric guitar solo from Lewis, had a hint of Red Hot Chili Peppers about it, whilst No Longer Mine put me in mind of Fleetwood Mac. Elsewhere, new track Prove Me Wrong had a 70s funk-influenced groove, recent single Speed Of Anything took on a dreamy, folky quality which balanced out the big chorus, and the uptempo Out On The Road had a great classic country vibe along with rapid-fire lyrics and tons of detail. That diverse style is a real asset to the group and provides a great backdrop to highlight their skill as musicians.
For me one particular highlight came midway through the show, when Isi and Lewis broke out their vintage microphone which they crowded around, along with Michael, for a short acoustic section. They opened with Break The Silence, the lilting title track from their upcoming album, which showed off the blend of their three voices beautifully and was incredibly moving, before switching into Don’t Give Up On Me Tonight. The song was full of yearning, with a lush, California in the 1970s feel about it and I loved the storytelling in it too – plus it got them their biggest cheers of the night! Other standout moments were their stripped-back version of Push And Pull, which they encouraged the crowd to sing along with, and the soft, subdued Better Days which Isi filled with conviction on the soaring chorus.
After introducing their band members, Isi and Lewis closed their set with Closest Stranger. For me it really summed up their approach as a bad – classic rock influences, an upbeat melody and gorgeous harmonies. I particularly liked seeing Isi’s sassy side come out as she swaggered about the stage before the song dropped back into an acapella finale. The crowd loudly chanted ‘one more song! One more song!’ and after thanking them for coming out, they happily responded with the rattling Best Part Of Me with its singalong chorus and powerful vocals from Lewis and Isi. It was an utterly joyous note to end the show on and clearly went down well with the audience, who burst into loud cheers and applause as they drew to a close.
Last night Two Ways Home put on an absolutely triumphant performance that showed just why UK country fans have taken them to their hearts. As well as being incredibly talented instrumentalists and songwriters, they had fantastic chemistry together onstage and a sound that draws on folk, country and rock influences to create something completely unique. Their live show is truly special, and the new album is sure to push them even further – I can’t wait to hear the full thing!
Set list: 1. Broken Hearts Club 2. Fall Together 3. Still In Love 4. Boys Of Summer (Don Henley cover) 5. Rule You 6. Prove Me Wrong 7. Speed Of Anything 8. Break The Silence 9. Don’t Give Up On Me Tonight 10. Push And Pull 11. Better Days 12. No Longer Mine 13. Out On The Road 14. Closest Stranger 15. Best Part Of Me Performance date: 27th November 2019
Two Ways Home’s debut album, Break The Silence, is due for release on 28th February 2020.
See Two Ways Home live on tour in the UK this November:
Thursday 28 November – Jimmy’s Manchester
Friday 29 November – Smoky Joe’s, Cheltenham