Ever since they first hit the stage at Country 2 Country in 2017, fans have been waiting for Brothers Osborne to hit the road in the UK. We had a little taste as they supported The Cadillac Three on the road at the back end of last year, so the excitement was truly at a peak when they announced this May’s headline tour. The tour itself was pretty much sold out weeks before the first show and the band even announced a second tour for November before they’d even played a note. This is a band who seem fully committed to playing in the UK. We headed down to the O2 Ritz in Manchester for the penultimate night of the tour.
Kicking off proceedings, with just his guitar and his voice, was Kendell Marvel. For those who aren’t already familiar with this songwriter, get prepared to hear a lot more from him. He releases his debut UK record Lowdown and Lonesome in the UK on Friday (18/05) and has made a huge impression on this tour. At this point in time he is perhaps best known as co-writer on almost 60 songs with Chris Stapleton, including the Grammy award winning Either Way but he showed on Saturday night that he has the voice, stories and stage presence to become a huge act in this country. He told us that he plans to come back in the next couple of months!
On to the headliners, those Brothers Osborne. The crowd had queued around the block for hours before the show and it was absolutely rammed in the sold-out Ritz, there could be no doubt that these boys have a fan base that spreads right across the UK. They hit the stage to a rapturous reception and launched into the lead single from their latest record Port Saint Joe, Shoot Me Straight. The band was tight, John’s guitar playing was on point and TJ led proceedings with his powerful and gruff vocals, every word being echoed back to him from the crowd.
The noise in the Ritz was louder than any other show that I’d seen, country or not. John even commented that it was “the loudest show we’ve ever played”. The Brothers followed up with Down Home and Rum, a song which led to a huge audience singalong. As the boys stood back and let the crowd sing their hit back to them, it must have been a surreal feeling thousands of miles from home, their smiles told you everything that you needed to know about how they felt.
I was glad that we got to hear a few tunes from Port Saint Joe. As I said in my review, this is an album that the British fans would love. It’s a complete record from start-to-finish and has an organic sound and feel that compliments the Brothers style. Just as they appear on the record, back-to-back and seamless, I Don’t Remember Me (Before You) and Weed, Whiskey and Willie came next, this crowd singalong on these songs must be enough to convince the boys of the love for this record over here.
John let his guitar do the talking again on the rocking Drank Like Hank, getting the crowd moving and shaking. It was song that I’d hoped to see live and it really didn’t let me down. The show was ended with two of the ‘big’ singles from Pawn Shop in the form of Stay A Little Longer and It Ain’t My Fault. As always, John shredded the life out of the former! The awesome thing was that, as the boys left the stage and returned for an encore, the crowd continued to sing It Ain’t My Fault. They almost seemed bewildered by it as it just got louder and louder when they came back on, to the point where John began playing the guitar part again, I genuinely thought we were going to see a reprise!
For the encore, TJ simply asked the crowd what they wanted to hear. After some suggestions, where TJ quipped that it’s amazing how two people can speak the same language but he can’t understand a word, they kept on playing. To be honest, by this point I was so mesmerized by the show that I forgot to write down what they played! There was also a lovely moment where TJ asked about the health of a woman who’d collapsed earlier in the show, John said that she’d get free tickets to any show on their next tour. This tells you everything that you need to know about how humble and kind these guys really are!
After the band rounded off their set with a cover of John Denver’s Country Roads (Take Me Home), with the entire crowd singing along, they were given a deafening send off from the crowd. There can be no doubt that Brothers Osborne have captured the heart of country fans in the UK. Their immense talent and overwhelming kindness has made them one of the most popular country acts that we’ve had over here. There can be no doubt that, if they continue this trajectory, they’ll be playing bigger and bigger shows. The sky really is the limit for these boys!