Sometimes it really surprises you how popular a band is and this is the case with country/rock duo The Shires who, despite not really having what would be described “mainstream” exposure, are playing to sold out venues across the UK on this current run of shows. The Barbican Theatre in York is no exception to the rule and the venue is pretty much full before support act Andy Brown takes to the stage.

Liverpudlian Brown who is probably better know as frontman for UK pop rockers outfit Lawson strides out armed only with an acoustic guitar and a set of songs with which to entertain this crowd with. Matching the polite audience with bunch of easy to digest tunes, Brown might not have had the crowd on their feet but he certainly had their undivded attention for half an hour and will have come away with more than a smattering of new fans from among this crowd.

It’s really hard not to like The Shires because, well, everything about them is so bloody nice. Now that is not meant as a criticism in any way because, once you’ve spent any length of time in the company of the pair, it’s hard not to feel your mood lift. Vocalist Crissie Rhodes has a great voice and watching her with Ben Earle , the pair clearly have a connection. Entertaining chat between songs keeps your attention and, listening to their stories and experiences from their time in Nashville, it’s obvious you’re in the company of two people who are really just enjoying life and everything it throws at them.

These experiences litter their hit album Accidentally On Purpose and they dish out pristine renditions of “Stay The Night” and “Ahead Of The Storm” along with older tracks like “Friday Night” as well as taking a trip back to where it all began with “All Over Again”. Tracks like “Friday Night” in particular have the crowd on their feet but, for the most part, this sold-out venue are happy to sit back and simply enjoy a polished performance from a band who, outside the UK, have rubbed shoulders with members of the cast of hit TV show Nashville and Ed Sheeran amongst others. See, I told you they were huge!


I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.