Live Review: Dan + Shay (Bush Hall, London)

Ciara Headlines, Live Review

My gosh, Dan & Shay certainly are popular. By the time I’d arrived at London’s Bush Hall, there was a queue of fans stretching around the block who all rushed in as the doors opened in order to get as close to the stage as possible. With this many fans, and a completely sold out UK tour, I wondered why it was only now, almost 3 years after the release of their first album Where It All Began, that Dan & Shay toured the UK. Nevertheless, I’m sure I speak on behalf of everyone at the concert in saying that I’m glad they were finally here!

As we waited for the gig to begin, the scene was set in the venue thanks to songs by Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton blasting through the speakers, with the crowd occasionally singing along to their favourite tracks and showing that country is alive and well this side of the pond. The high energy atmosphere continued as Pauper Kings took to the stage, getting the crowd clapping along as they began with Friday Night, a poppy upbeat number to get the crowd hyped. This was followed by a more country style track called Feels Like Home, which worked well with the acoustic atmosphere as the band had just brought a few guitars and a cajon box drum on stage – my favourite kind of setup.

Lead singer Tim McKay was able to show off his deep vocals throughout the set, and particularly on new track About A Girl, which they followed up with a cover of the Keith Urban / Dixie Chicks song Some Days You Gotta Dance, with instrumental solos allowing the musicians to show off their skills. The band were also able to show off their songwriting skills with Let It Be Love, an uplifting track recorded following this years mass shooting in Orlando, which showed a softer side to their more rocky sound. Their choice of next song, Messed Up, was well-chosen given the occasion, having been pitched to the band by Dan & Shay themselves, although it did leave me wanting to hear the original demo to see how the band had adapted Dan & Shay’s style to their own. The band finished with high energy tracks Goodbye Would Go and a sing-along cover of Who Wouldn’t Want to Be Me, leaving the crowd hyped and ready for the main act.

It was clear to see the excitement building in the venue for Dan & Shay, and given that it was the final night of the UK leg of their Obsessed Tour, it was bound to be a party, and a huge cheer went up as the duo took to the stage. Like Pauper Kings, Dan & Shay had opted for an acoustic style show with just the one guitar, but absolutely nothing else was needed. They started the set with What You Do To Me, Shay making up for the lack of band by doing his best impression of an 80s guitar and joking around with Dan and the crowd. It’s at times like this that I think country artists put on some of the best shows, with no autotune necessary, meaning that they sound just as good live (if not better) as on their albums and that was evident tonight.

Dan & Shay’s interaction and chemistry both with each other and with the crowd was great, as we were all encouraged to help with the chorus in Show You Off, although everyone seemed just as happy to listen to Shay’s incredible vocal range on its own too. Having not toured the UK before, the set consisted of songs from both the duos first album, Where It All Began, as well as their latest released Obsessed, including their incredibly catchy new single How Not To and slow love ballad From The Ground Up. Lyrics like ‘someday we’ll wake up with thousands of pictures, of 65 years in this little house. I won’t trade for nothing the life that we built, I’ll kiss you goodnight and say, I love you still’ make it clear to see why this has been chosen as the anthem for many country fans weddings this year, and I’m sure many of them would have loved to see it performed live, with Shay holding quite possibly the longest solo note known to man towards the end of the song – not an easy feat I’m sure!

In spite of the autumnal weather outside, we were treated to a taste of summer with Stop, Drop + Roll and All Nighter bringing me, and I’m sure many others in the audience, back to fond memories of rocking out to the duos tracks on long summer nights. As well as dancey tracks like these, Dan & Shay have written some great love songs which they also showed off at the gig, including Can’t Say No and one of my personal favourites Already Ready which you can’t help but love. Another favourite of mine, Lipstick, was added as a last minute addition to the setlist especially for this last night of tour, and the positive reaction from the crowd to hearing this song played live for the first time hopefully convinced the duo that we’d love to have them back soon.

As well as all of the fans at the concert, Dan also mentioned another of their fans who hadn’t been able to make it – Ed Sheeran, who they honoured with a stunning cover of Thinking Out Loud, showing how easily the two can put their own country twist on popular songs. The duo made sure to finish on a high with some of their most popular songs Nothin Like You and 19 You + Me, although I’m sure the crowd would have loved them to keep playing all night. However, the show wasn’t quite over, and I loved the fact that they made sure to come out after the show to do a Meet & Greet with everyone there which I’m sure must have taken quite a while. It’s things like this and making time for fans that make you like an artist even more, and I know that myself and many others are Already Ready for Dan & Shay to return to the UK and sell out another tour.

Keep up to date with all things Dan & Shay and Ciara’s Country by checking out @CiarasCountry and @nashoverhere on Twitter – let us know what interviews and reviews you’d like to see!


About the Author

Ciara

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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!