Dexeter Album Launch
Orginally posted on For The Country Record
Situated in the heart of London’s bustling Camden Town is the Barfly, a pub-cum-music venue that played host to the album launch of Dexeter this past Friday. In high spirits and in high heat, country fans filed into the venue (beers in hand) to witness a night of live music that would be triumphant for all. First up was Liv Austen, who expressed her delight at the sheer volume of folks already gathered to check out the first support act. She was treated to a great deal of respectful silence as she performed each of her tracks, too, with appreciative applause and cheers meeting each lull in music. Joined by her acoustic guitarist, Liv delivered a selection of songs that highlighted both her gritty low range and fluttering, pure high range, in addition to excellent songwriting and beautifully-crafted melodies. Her set included each track from her debut EP ‘Workin’ Man’s Dream’, as well as a track about having two choices in each situation and ‘Don’t Regret A Single One’, a sweet little ditty about every man she’s been in love with.
To close, her guitarist left the stage and Liv sat down at the keyboard to play a wonderful rendition of ‘The Guts You Always Had’, a song written about her sister that benefited from a brief cover of Maddie & Tae’s ‘Fly’ halfway through. “For the people in the front row, I am wearing shorts underneath, you’re not getting more than you paid for I promise!” She exclaimed to laughter while sat down at the digital piano. The delicate china doll with a piercing, powerful voice and irresistible songs found a whole lot of new fans that night. Next up was Lucy May, who produced a capable set of songs from her debut album, pleasing the crowd and closing with her most well-known track ‘Whirlwind’.
With the excitement for Dexeter almost at a fever pitch, the short interval between acts was abruptly broken by the crashing of drums from the assembled backing band, startling much of the audience by achieving their desired feat – everyone was locked in on the stage. The band continued to build suspense, the hard drum beat joined by guitar and bass until Gareth stepped up onto the stage, and then finally Deeanne, to really kick the show off with a bang. From the first note of opening track ‘Breathe’, Dee was on perfect vocal form, confidently leading a sound that was pulsing with energy and bursting like firecrackers. They kept the beat going as they segued into ‘More Than This’ (a track from their previous album ‘Brighter Skies’), but not before dropping in a joke. “Normally he takes his jacket off now but it’s too hot,” Dee quipped, motioning towards Gareth who was simply wearing a t-shirt. He grinned and lifted up the side of his shirt to reveal bare flesh, which was met with enthusiastic whoops from the crowd.
Next up was ‘Tired’, also from ‘Brighter Skies’, made complete with a mid-song cover of Lady Antebellum’s ‘747’ that many fans would have seen performed at C2C. “Some of these you’re gonna know, some of these you’re not gonna know, but just make up the words. That’s what we do!” Gareth laughed, proving once again that he’s the life of the party. The band took this opportunity to pause for a second, mentioning the incredible heat that had followed everyone inside, before thanking everyone involved in the album and its launch and heading into its title track, ‘4000 Miles To Nashville’. Dee called out to find her mum in the crowd, telling her to get ready to record, before launching into a stripped-back, incredible soulful rendition of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ that gradually drifted into one of their most well-known songs, ‘Slow It Down’. They seem to sound even better live than on record, with the soul and blues vibe that has emerged in their music over the past year or so really providing them a distinct sound that differs from much of their peers.
That’s not to mention their collective attitude that positions them as ever-humble and having the time of their lives. The atmosphere was electric as they performed like they were back in high school again, Gareth and Paul (the bassist) having something of a “guitar-off”, the infectious energy of which translated back to the audience. It was at this point they officially announced that they would be the London support for Angaleena Presley’s upcoming UK tour, as well as hinting that ‘Getaway Car’ (which was what they played next) may be the next single. It was back to ‘Brighter Skies’ for a moment with the inclusion of ‘Grey’ and ‘Something Gold’, until they brought the energy down for a piano version of ‘Older’. They began in earnest, but Gareth stopped proceedings quickly to reveal that he had just been told they were at #40 on the iTunes UK country charts. Ecstatic, the duo hugged while the audience cheered, a brief moment of real emotion and a sign of their genuineness that made them ever the more likeable. The performance of ‘Older’ that followed, therefore, complete with the entire crowd singing along, became all the more poignant.
As the night was coming to a close, Dexeter invited their friend Laura Oakes (whose EP launch we reviewed recently) up on stage to perform with them. Seemingly unplanned but coming together beautifully, their cover of ‘Ho Hey’ could have gone on all night and I wouldn’t have minded. A performance of their current single ‘Meet Me There’ followed, but the audience wanted more after they had left the stage, demanding an encore that was wilfully given. In true showmanship, the band invited Liv Austen, Lucy May and Laura Oakes back up to the stage to perform with them on a stellar version of John Denver’s ‘Country Roads’, pausing in the middle to highlight each member of Dexeter’s band via snippets of well-known songs from Jason Mraz, Elton John and The Beatles. The stage full and everyone singing their hearts out, it was a fantastic end to a night full of successes, and I’m sure this is just the first of many headlining shows in the country’s capital.