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Live Review: Ward Thomas & Charlie Worsham at the Sage Gateshead

UK country stars Ward Thomas have a long relationship with the Sage Gateshead. The group have played many shows in this building, dating back to their early SummerTyne Americana Festival performances on the concourse and the surrounding outdoor stage.

Since that time the sisters have frequented the venue on many occasions including several headline performances in Hall One. By their admission, the Sage is one of their favourite venues in the country. And with the room's acoustically perfect sound and prestigious position on the banks of the River Tyne who could blame them?

As a result of the frequency of their visits to Tyneside Ward Thomas has amassed somewhat of a following in the North East. Therefore, it is no surprise that Hall One and its multi-tiered balcony are packed to the rafters for this evening’s concert.

Those in attendance early in the evening were treated to a wonderful stripped-back solo acoustic set from US-based country artist Charlie Worsham. The esteemed troubadour has played with contemporary country greats such as Luke Coombs and Carrie Underwood to name but a few.

Worsham's popularity in the UK rose to prominence when his compositions featured on the hit TV show Bones. And as such, the Nashville singer/songwriter has performed on our shores many times. Although, it has been a while since his last visit. Unfortunately, an eagerly anticipated performance at C2C with Old Crow Medicine Show was curtailed at the last moment when the pandemic broke. But thankfully for his fans, the artist's trip across the pond came to fruition this time around.

With just his guitar, and bathed in a white spotlight, Charlie took the Gateshead crowd through the likes of his take on the Prince classic Little Red Corvette, as well as a bunch of new material which he explained will feature some very special guests. The performer had been writing with Ward Thomas in Nashville in recent times and subsequently, had really hit it off with the duo. Based on this performance, it was easy to see why.

This time around Ward Thomas arrive at the Sage Gateshead with a new album in tow – namely, Music in the Madness. Perhaps a sentiment we can all relate to in the light of these strange times we’ve been witnessing.

An early airing of the classic Guilty Flowers certainly won over the room at the top of the show. Whilst stripped-back renditions of Cartwheels, Safe and Loved By You were highlights of the evening early in the set. The audience was so attentive that you could almost hear a pin drop.

The group’s latest album played a key part in the setlist, with the lion’s share of the record featuring in the show. Joined by a four-piece backing band, Catherine and Lizzy sunk their heart and soul into their performance throughout. The pair’s latest offering showcases their musical evolution, with a more of a contemporary pop feel to their newest output. Particularly with tracks such as the affectionally titled I Think I Hate You and Joan Of Arc. Whilst their country stylings still shone through during a foot-stomping performance of Justice and Mercy.

The title track of the group’s latest album is a real earworm. With its catchy hooks and singalong chorus it certainly left a lasting impression. But perhaps the surprise inclusion in the set was their take on the Razorlight anthem America, which Ward Thomas made their own. A nostalgic rendition of Push for The Stride took the fans back to the start of their career, whilst also hurtling the group towards the end of the set.

The beauty of a Ward Thomas concert is their astounding vocal harmonies which featured prominently throughout the evening. The Sage Gateshead audience was left spellbound from the off.

Words and Photos by Adam Kennedy

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