The Pierces - O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

Given the long road The Pierces have journeyed in the States, their pretty much instant success over here must be a rather welcome surprise. With You & I storming the charts (a Stateside release has yet to be scheduled) and backing from Jools Holland, the Alabama duo are one of the few acts around that, along with the likes of Adele, are seemingly getting over-30s to go along to gigs. And tonight’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire set was befitting of its audience; shorn of gimmicky sparkle – no “we say this, you say this” nonsense – the focus was entirely on the music and that sparkled enough on its own.

Unsurprisingly, the set relies heavily on You & I with the duo avoiding the risk of alienating the majority of the audience by delving too much into their back catalogue (only two tracks, including the excellent, cutting set closer ‘Boring’, get an airing), but once they start to sing, you get the feeling they could have sung anything, even the pop classic ‘Friday’, and wooed the crowd. Their harmonies on record are gorgeous; live, they’re practically heavenly. The main set delights but the true treasure is left for the encore which they kick off with an a cappella version of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Kathy’s Song’, a jaw dropping rendition that leaves the audience enthralled in an almost-reverent silence. It’s a high point of a set that’s practically flawless performance-wise, with the real surprise coming when Allison false-starts ‘Sticks And Stones’ on the wrong fret. For other musicians out there, it’s alright, The Pierces are actually human after all.

If one thing stands out, it's that the overall feel of the gig was one of old-fashioned charm. Practically unheard of nowadays, the duo introduce every member of the backing band before set closer ‘Glorious’ and it’s a lovely touch that, along with their amiable chat between tracks, makes you feel they genuinely love what they’re doing. In today’s disposable society and cut-throat industry, not many acts would go through what they have and still keep going but, like Kings Of Leon before they went stratospheric, they’ve found a more appreciative audience on this side of the pond and if tonight’s reactions are anything to go by, we want to keep them here.

Set List

KISSING YOU GOODBYE
LOVE YOU MORE
IT WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN
PIECE OF YOU
DRAG YOU DOWN
STICKS AND STONES
THE GOOD SAMARITAN
CLOSE MY EYES
CITY ON FIRE
WE ARE STARS
YOU'LL BE MINE
GLORIOUS
-----------------------------------------------------
KATHY'S SONG (Simon & Garfunkel cover)
I PUT YOUR RECORDS ON
BORING

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