Striking Matches live in London
By Claire-Louise Photos by Hels Bels Photography
Striking Matches kicked off their UK tour last night at the breathtaking Union Chapel in London. After a fantastic support by our very own Lucy May, the duo took to the stage to play to a sold out audience. It’s worth nothing that this was also the first time they’ve played alongside a band on British soil, bringing from along all the way from Nashville.
They kicked off their set with uptempo ‘Trouble Is As Trouble Does’ and finished to a massive round of applause from the audience. Sarah said that it was good to be back the UK, and they both talked about how it should be scary being so far away from home, yet whenever they come here they feel like they are coming home. (I hope they consume lots of Tea on this trip) Debut UK single, ‘Missing You Tonight’ was up next, it didn’t naturally strike a chord with me however I will say it’s grown on me since. We were given an update on what they’d been up to since they were last here in March, releasing their debut record on IRS records, ‘Nothing But The Silence’ which was taken with a hugely positive reaction from the room. I’ve mentioned before that Sarah plays a variety of instruments, she joked about running around the stage to collect whichever instrument she needs for certain songs. Justin then introduced himself as the Striking Matches, joking with the crowd.
After lots of laughter from the audience it was time for another song, album track ‘Miss Me More, on which Sarah plays the mandolin. You can tell they are truly humbled to have such support from us here in the UK, Sarah joked that maybe they just wouldn’t go home! – I don’t think we’d object to them staying here would we?
I’m sure everyone has heard of the TV show Nashville by now, it’s had three seasons and just got renewed for a forth. This duo have been lucky enough to have eight of their songs featured, two tracks even made the cut for their debut album. ‘Hanging On A Lie’ was one of them, and although it’s not a stand out for me, it’s not a bad song either. They continued the set list with ‘Never Gonna Love Again’ on which Sarah missed her cue. It’s become something of a tradition now if anything goes wrong at a UK show, to blame the jetlag. I love the way they interact with the crowd and they have this way of performing that feels like they are singing to a bunch of friends rather than almost 1,000 people.
The band left the stage as Sarah and Justin decided to strip it back, the first song they did was one of my favourites off the record, ‘God And You’ it was made even more special given they were playing in a working church, the room was silent and with only a guitar it really allowed for their sublime harmonies to shine through. It was perfect moment and definitely one of my stand outs of the evening. Next came ‘He Only Loves Me When It’s Raining’ and admittedly it’s a song I’d never heard before but enjoyed. Then came the first surprise of the evening, they invited their friend and co-writer Jon Green (whose written with the likes of Lucie Silvas, Ed Sheeran and Pixie Lott) onto the stage to sing a track all three of them wrote called ‘Like Lovers’ one of the best breakup songs there is and a favourite of mine from the album, they ended to a huge round of applause. There had been word of The Shires dueting with Sarah and Justin and they did exactly that, coming on stage to sing their rendition of ‘I Ain’t Leaving Without Your Love’ – another track from Nashville. It was a beautiful moment to see my favourite UK duo and favourite American duo on stage together for a song. After giving Sarah and Justin a hug The Shires left the stage.
They are doing a co-headline show in July in Bristol so if you live around the area make sure you don’t miss out, I’m sure it will be incredible.
‘When The Right One Comes Along’ is probably the duo’s signature song, it was the last Nashville track of the evening. The version on the album is good with the band however I feel it works better acoustically. Sarah mentioned when I interviewed them at this years Country to Country festival that it makes her cry when she sees people sing this back to her, and this show was no exception. Again the entire auditorium was so silent you’d hear a pin drop. but this only added to the moment, and a special one it was.
After a roaring reception it was time for the band to re-join the duo, and time for the album’s title track ‘Nothing But The Silence’ which Justin told the crowd “took about six months to write”
No show these days is complete without one or two covers, Sarah and Justin let out their rockier side with a suburb rendition of ‘Crossroads’ by Eric Clapton.
They told us they had one more song which was ‘Make A Liar Out Of Me’ I’ve loved this track ever since seeing them at Country to Country in 2013 but this was the first opportunity I got to hear it live with a band. The percussion brings it to life and it’s amazing to hear how one little change can bring out such a difference, not to mention Sarah’s epic slide guitar solo in the middle. I never tire of hearing it, and leaves me speechless every time.
Leaving the stage to a well deserved standing ovation it was clear that the audience wanted more, and more we got. They came back out and thanked us and ended the show with a cover of an Elvis Presley song, ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’. Justin mentioned that they were approached by the BBC to re-work the track for a special tribute to Elvis 60 years on from him recording his debut single. The audience remained on their feet throughout and after finishing the track thanked us once again for an incredible evening. We should be thanking them.
The Striking Matches are exceptional, mind blowing guitarists and along with their vocal delivery make them such a pleasure to watch. I’ve been lucky enough to watch them grow over the past couple of years and I can only see them going from strength to strength as they continue to wow crowds on both sides of the Atlantic.