Maddie and Tae - Bierkeller, Bristol
There probably hasn't been a greater contrast in the history of music than country duo Maddie and Tae playing the Bristol Bierkeller, with its Anvil, Bon Giovi, and Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons posters adorning the walls, and roadies in AC/DC and Metallica vests. It's immediately apparent that the door staff and bouncers aren't prepared for the middle class, Preppy, check shirt clad audience for tonight's show.
Opening with an act like The Saturdays Una Healey is surely unprecedented for the venue but her new direction of underplayed folksy-ness plays right to the core of the night's audience. Healey is merely the understated starter though for the main course, the inimitable Maddie and Tae. With a crowd full of 20-somethings, as well as a smattering of old school country followers, the next 80 minutes is a perfect show of Nashville country pop.
The girls look like they're having great fun all night, and they’re supported by an excellent band. With Maddie taking the lead the striking thing about the duo is their excellent harmonies and some spot on vocals, all showcased by the venues loud sound system. Calling them country pop isn’t a slight, it’s something they’d embrace - as shown by their Rhianna cover - and the duo have a great handle on what makes country country. Songs like ‘Shut Up And Fish’ and the ubiquitous ‘Girl In A Country Song’ as laced with fiddle and foot tapping melodies that drive along the singalong sheen. It’s shiny and fun, but with an underlying lyrical sternness.
Introducing ‘After The Storm Blows Through’ shows why this duo from Texas and Oklahoma have struck such a chord with UK audiences on this debut UK tour: “The reason we do all this is a to make a difference. To move people.” They're the Tom Hanks of country; the nicest people ever. You'd trade your sisters for them.