21 April 2018 (gig)
23 April 2018
Stomp your boots or shed a tear? Emotions run high as cast, crew and audience bid farewell to Nashville from London’s The O2 Arena.
‘Even If It Breaks Your Heart’ was a fitting opener to the London concert of this year’s Nashville tour, with all five beloved cast members on stage performing a rousing rendition of a song about the highs and lows of making it in the country-music business. This was the first song ever heard on Sky Living’s award-winning series about the lives and loves of stars and wannabes in Music City. Now in its sixth and (sadly!) final series, Nashville’s music and its characters have clearly won hearts and minds of fans a world away from Tennessee.
That this was acknowledged by each of Saturday’s performers - Charles Esten, Clare Bowen, Jonathan Jackson, Sam Palladio and Chris Carmack – with a mixture of what seemed to be genuine surprise and gratitude, made Saturday’s concert all the more heart-warming. “We film 10 months out of the year and then they let us out of our cages,” said Bowen, explaining that the Nashville Tour concerts have been the highlight of her six years playing the show’s Scarlett O’Connor. Given that these actors are also incredibly talented musicians, it is easy to believe that playing in front of real-life fans must beat endless silent stage-set and green screen performances.
Saturday’s crowd was as happy to join in with fan-favourites from across the six seasons as to support the cast performing original material. Life blurred pleasantly with fiction, from Chris Carmack treating us to his “best Will Lexington” with cowboy heart-throb anthem ‘What If I Was Willing”, to Joshua Jackson asking (to rapturous applause) whether there were “any Avery fans” in the audience before playing season one’s ‘Keep Asking Why’. Charles Esten mustered as much passion in performing his original song ‘Whiskey Lips’ as he did singing his character Deacon’s heart-rending ‘Sanctuary’, while Clare Bowen’s spine-tingling ‘Black Roses’ transcended both screen and stage to leave the audience spellbound by the searing beauty of her voice.
With solos showcasing each of the musicians’ very different styles, to collaborations that played on the performers’ on and off-screen chemistry, the sheer variety of Saturday’s concert kept the audience entertained and increasingly vocal in their enjoyment. Yet we were also left with no doubt that for both the cast and their characters, playing an arena gig to adoring fans was a dream come true; even Nashville Executive-Producer Steve Buchanan could be seen in the crowd snapping photos of his incredible cast and joining them on stage for a farewell selfie. It was a gig that will live-on in everyone’s memories, and with their own musical projects in the making we were promised that our favourite Nashville stars would return to London soon – maybe we’ll have stopped yelling “We love you Deacon!” by then. Maybe not.