Tyler Childers, The Rescue Rooms, Nottingham – Thursday 29th August 2019
This gig was originally booked into another local venue, the Bodega, but demand for tickets was such that it was moved to the Rescue Rooms which has roughly twice the capacity. Nottingham doesn’t tend to be a stop-off for “name” country music artists from the U.S. so this was a rare treat for local fans and they came out in numbers.
Support was from Georgie, a Nottingham-based singer/songwriter who played a 30 minute set that managed to quieten much of the hubbub from the crowd. In fact, I’d say she received one of the most enthusiastic audiences responses I’ve known for the support act, and deservedly so.
Tyler and his band took to the stage at 8:30pm prompt and were just about to launch into their set when they were stopped in their tracks by a noisy XLR connection. So, while the sound tech sorted that out, Tyler kept us entertained with a story about a man who goes into a bar, and involves a genie’s lamp and a foot- high piano player…. I shall say no more(!) – except to say that it’s good when a performer has these kinds of monologue’s up his sleeve. Tech issues can arise at any venue and a rowdy crowd can quickly get impatient if the band are just stood around waiting.
Tech problems were duly resolved and Tyler and the band wasted no more time before launching with “Born Again”, from the Purgatory album, which segued neatly into a rocking cover of Kenny Rogers’ “Tulsa Turnaround”. You wouldn’t necessarily think of a connection between Kenny and Tyler as their styles and presentations are so different, but if ever there was a song to bring these two guys together then this would definitely be it and Childers & Co. make a handsome job of it.
The set was a neat mix of Childers’ new album and his earlier material and showed that, whatever opinions people may have of what producer Sturgill Simpson has brought to Country Squire, the songs themselves hold up equally in the live setting alongside the previous work. A lot of lusty, full-throated singing from the crowd throughout the night showed their clear appreciation as “House Fire”, “Bus Route” and “Country Squire” went down just as well as “Redneck Romeo”, “Feathered Indians” and “Whitehouse Road”.
For those who are interested in such things, Childers seems to have made an effort to spruce up his appearance lately. Gone is the straggly beard and tied-back hair. These days everything is much more carefully clipped and under control, and his stage-wear tonight was a neatly pressed denim ensemble. No need to worry about any impact on the performance, however. Just as gutsy, gritty and expressive as ever. The well-drilled band were in hot form too and were all over everything.
There wasn’t too much chat between songs outside of the customary band introductions, and yet there was still a sense of a very real engagement with the crowd. Maybe it was just the shared passion for the music that bound it all together. He did take a moment to tell us he’d lost his way back to the venue when they all ventured into the city after the sound check. He was thankful that he was “discovered” by a couple of fans who recognised him – and who then asked Childers for directions to the venue! I guess they all worked it out together in the end.
The evening drew to a close all too soon at 10pm as the room had to be cleared for a “disco”, as Tyler called it (that’s club night to you and me) and he wrapped things up with a swinging version of the old Charlie Daniels Band track “Trudy” and despite prolonged chanting from the audience there was no encore. At least Tyler Childers would leave Nottingham in no doubt that he’d be very welcome back any time.
It was interesting to look around the room and see t-shirts ranging from John Prine to Brothers Osborne, suggesting it’s not just a hardcore “traditionalist” country crowd that Childers attracts. Yes, the pedal steel, fiddle and banjo were all prominent at various points in the evening and deployed to great effect, but there’s never any sense of being tied to tradition. It’s just a good time, great night out, plain and simple. He’s back in the UK in January – do yourself a favour and get to a show (see our UK Tours page for tickets).