The Shires Debut at The Opry
by Hannah Compton
Saturday June 6th 2015, The Shires stood on the historic Circle of The Grand Ole Opry Stage for the first time ever.
For any Country Artist, it is the biggest honour to be invited to perform at The Opry. After all it is the Worlds longest running Radio Programme featuring Country Music, The Show That made Country Music famous and anyone who is anyone has performed there.
Since being The first UK Country act to have a Country album in the top ten UK album charts, we, the fans all knew big things were coming their way. From the moment The Shires announced they were playing at The Opry, we all wanted to be there and have been looking forward to it ever since. Even if we would only be listening from home, bed, car, wherever we were.
Sadly, I for one could not be there in person but I stayed up till 2am British time, to hear it live. Keeping an eye on Social Media, it was great to be part of the hype leading up to their performance and reading tweets from people who were actually there waiting in the audience. It is also worth noting that The Opry are celebrating their 90th year which made it all the more exciting.
The show started at 7pm in Nashville which was 1am here. A great line up of Opry members and Traditional Country Artists first before Ben and Crissie came on at 8.15pm (2.15 am) approx.
The Shires were given a great introduction, the host telling the audience they were from the UK and that they made UK Chart History as I stated above and informing us that this was their Opry Debut. As they came on stage the audience cheered and you could tell that there were some UK support in the crowd.
When you perform at The Opry, as it is a long line up, the artists get on average two songs to perform so picking them must be hard, especially if it is your Opry debut. I personally think The Shires chose wisely and actually not the songs I was expecting them to perform. I wonder how they came to the decision and if they changed their minds a few times first?
They started with Nashville Grey Skies. A favourite of mine as I have said many times before as was the song introducing me to their music. This song has such a great Country feel to it and is so uplifting and would no doubt have got the crowd going. Not being there myself, I couldn’t see the audience to know for sure but the response and applause when they finished the song only confirmed my prediction.
When they finished the first song, you could tell how excited Ben and Crissie both were. Both thanking the audience and Opry repeatedly for being there and how much it meant to them. Ben was almost at a loss for words and I can feel they were probably both close to tears. Crissie explained the meaning behind the song Nashville Grey Skies and how Country Music is not so big in the UK and they hope to change that. I think they are definitely going to be a big part of that change. Crissie also explained that its not only their Opry debut but their US debut as have never performed in the US before. I remember having a conversation with Ben a while back when they first went to Nashville and how he said they didn’t have a licence yet to perform there and would have been illegal to start playing on the streets and, as I was in Nashville at the time I said, yes it wouldn’t have been good to for me to go home saying, Yes, I saw The Shires in Nashville, getting arrested.
The next song they sang, which surprised me but in a good way was Only Midnight. A wise choice indeed as I would describe the song as being very current to todays US market. This song has always reminded me of a US band called Gloriana, another talented Country Music vocal group.
The vocals on both songs were flawless, I could slightly hear the nerves but that did not affect the performance in any way, in fact it made it more real, emotional and put a very edgy feel to Crissie vocals in particular.
Once it was over they expressed their gratitude once more, well maybe thrice and were very well received with what I would describe as the biggest cheer from the audience all night.
I really loved staying up to listen to it with friends and reading all the tweets during and after. The UK were really supporting Ben and Crissie all night and it was very moving. I can tell they were not only welcomed by the US but I think they definitely have a place there now. Just don’t make it permanent guys, we still need you here ha x
We are vey proud of The Shires having such a unforgettable experience to their ever rising career. This will be a moment they will never forget and I am so glad to have been able to be a part of it , even if it was from my IPAD at home but like many others, I was there in spirit.