NASHVILLE IN CONCERT, O2 Arena – Evening Standard, 23 April 2018

While The Greatest Showman’s soundtrack is spending longer topping the charts than the film spent in the cinema, the stars of the TV series Nashville put on a show that suggested that they too could live on as singers more than actors.

“We film 10 months out of the year and then they let us out of our cages,” said Clare Bowen, an Australian actress better known to Sky Living viewers as innocent Southern starlet Scarlett O’Connor, explaining how the music can come to life on a far bigger stage than most of its characters get to occupy.

This was billed as the “farewell” tour. Having already been cancelled after four seasons by one US channel, Nashville is now bowing out on series six. It has been a fun, soapy drama, mostly centred on the fractious relationship between fading giant Rayna James (Connie Britton) and young Taylor Swift type Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), neither of whom were on the concert tour.

Casting multiple actors who could really sing and play added authenticity to this affectionate portrayal of Music City, and made this concert more worthwhile than a branded spin-off, even if the blurring of fiction and reality did create a little confusion.

Sam Palladio, who plays Gunnar Scott, turned out to have a British accent. Chris Carmack wore a guitar strap that said “CHRIS” and the crowd still yelled “We love you Will!”. Jonathan Jackson, aka bad boy Avery Barkley, plugged his real band’s next London gig, then pretended to be Jim Kerr during an overblown rendition of Simple Minds’ Belfast Child.

Senior cast member Charles Esten, who plays grizzled guitarist Deacon Claybourne, seemed to have the most vocal fanbase. He offered plenty to please them, wandering through the crowd to sing a bouncy duet with Bowen, and slipping into a cover of the Oasis favourite Don’t Look Back in Anger.

Jackson tried the hardest to ensure he’s remembered after the TV show vanishes, stringing out his numbers in a way that screamed, “Take me seriously!” The others seemed simply to be enjoying

the idea that acting as musicians could take them to real life arenas so far from Tennessee.

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