Live Review: Cale Tyson (The Borderline, London)

Ciara Headlines, Live Review

You know an artist must be good if this is their third tour in the UK over the course of a year. Cale Tyson clearly has a lot of fans this side of the pond who keep making him want to come back, and now it was my turn to see what all of the fuss was about.

Cale’s gig at The Borderline seemed to have been almost all organised by UK record label Clubhouse Records, as all three acts performing on the evening were members of the label. The first of these was Erin Rae & The Meanwhiles, who I’d been introduced to by C2C alumnus Andrew Combs (you can read my interview here). The fact that she was friends not only with Andrew but also with Cale suggests to me that there is a close-knit community of up-and-coming country/folk community in Nashville, and if they’re all as good as the three mentioned in this paragraph, I hope more head over to the UK soon.

Erin started with Minolta, a slow old-school country song that you can imagine being played at the back of a smoky honky-tonk bar. Erin’s voice lilted easily across octaves in songs such as Owe You One and Playing Old Games. I found most of her songs to be slow and chilled out, creating a very easy listening vibe which worked perfectly with the simplistic set-up on stage of just Erin and her guitar, a bassist, and drummer.

As she moved onto Soon Enough, the title track of her latest album, I thought to myself that it was almost unfair that someone should be able to sing that beautifully without autotune, but there was definitely nothing more than pure talent here. In fact, after the concert, I went to listen to Erin’s album and found that she sounded so much better live than on the record – and it’s not often that you can say that about artists.

Erin finished her set with Pretty Thing and Clean Slate, and it was at this point that you really could have heard a pin drop in The Borderline. Her voice commands attention, and she thanked the audience at the end for listening “as it’s not always required for opening acts,” but why would you want to miss this? I try my hardest with reviews to give you as best an indication of the artist as I can, but I’m struggling to find the right way to describe Erin’s sound – just YouTube one of her live songs. You’ll be glad that you did.

This incredibly difficult opening act was followed by The Redland Palomino Company, who came on with full band, which was almost a shame as the instruments had a tendency to drown out the vocals. Towards the end of the set, the audience was actually asked if we could hear lead singer Hannah, to which we responded with a resounding ‘no’, but by that point it was too late. The Redlands style was much more upbeat and poppy, and they did show a real energy on stage in songs like Goodbye Love and Broken Carelessly. My favourite of their songs was one I believe was called Teenage Fight Club with its catchy pedal steel, which would have fit in well on the soundtrack for a high school movie – an enjoyable set, just a shame that we couldn’t hear much of what was going on for most of it.

Cale then came on stage in mechanics overalls and a cowboy hat, and began singing in what is quite possibly the most ‘country’ voice I’d ever heard, full of twang and Texan charm. He began with Staying Kind and Gonna Love A Woman, and like Erin’s songs, these were the ones we’d imagine would fit like a glove in a Southern bar. There was an indeterminable old-school vibe that the artists playing emitted, with each of them unlike anything you’d hear on today’s radio.

Erin was brought back on stage to join Cale on Long Gone Girl, and looking around, it was nice to see a distinct lack of phones and cameras thrust in the air recording or taking pictures. The audience seemed to be wholly present, and with this kind of control over the crowd, it was no surprise that Cale had returned to the UK so many times. Another reason for his prevalence in the UK is because due to a lack of US label, Cale’s albums have not yet been released in the States, meaning that he remains a relative unknown over there – a good thing for us as it’s unlikely he’d be able to head to the UK so often having inevitably done well in the States.

The pace was picked up in Careless Soul and Somebody Save Me, songs which represented country/folk stripped right back to what it used to be. In an era where country seems to be veering more and more towards pop/rock crossover, it’s nice to see artists harking back to ‘the good old days’ and maintaining their traditionality. Not only is this clear in the melody, but the lyrics too, as we are told the story of Traveling Man about a friend of Cale’s who neglects a relationship he doesn’t really want to be in by heading off on tour; and we could hear the emotion dripping through every word.

As the set drew to a close, Cale and his talented band put all of their energy into the last few songs Railroad Blues and Easy. It’s clear that Cale performs not for recognition that he is a good artist, which he most certainly is, but for love of the music. There wasn’t a sense of ennui in his set, as one might expect artists to get from playing the same songs every night, but instead a real passion to share his stories and songs. This was an evening full of different sounds than I’m used to, of pure vocals and simplicity, and of artists sounding even better live than on their albums. I have no doubt Cale will be back to the UK soon enough, and no doubt that his tour will be well attended wherever he goes.

Interview with Cale coming soon – be the first to know when it’s posted by following us on Twitter at @nashoverhere & @CiarasCountry, as well as accessing exclusive content from Erin Rae and Cale Tyson’s set at The Borderline!

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27 January, 1991

Home Town

Cleburne, Texas


About the Author



Hi! I'm Ciara, long time country music fan, host of 'Ciara's Country' on Purple Radio, and blogger on a mission to bring country music to a wider audience in the UK by proving it's not all about trucks and banjos! I love all kinds of contemporary country, from big Nashville names to the latest UK artists – I'll listen to just about anything. You can normally find me reviewing and interviewing artists at any country music gigs I can find in London or scouring social media looking to find the next big thing!