DARLINGS of Radio 2, The Shires, turned a dull midweek night into a feelgood party.

Chrissie Rhodes and Ben Earle are at the forefront of the British country scene - and it’s easy to see why.

At the heart of the show are their stunning harmonies which tug at the heart strings and inflame the passions. I may be wrong but I’d be amazed if much bigger stages aren’t just around the corner.


The Shires made history when their debut album Brave went top 10 on its release. The album provided the bulk of the set with a surprising number of the audience singing along to every word.

Credit too to the duo’s backing band. For the album top, Nashville session men were brought in but the three extremely young looking musicians on tour were more than up to the job.

If your impression of country is rhinestones and stetsons, think again. The Shires are proud of their British roots and a live show is part rock, part soul with the Grand Old Opry thrown in.

Songs which sound great on album take on a whole new lease of life in concert - Tonight, Black and White and Friday Night all become powerpop, party anthems. The title track Brave is even more poignant and you could hear a pin drop as Crissie did full justice to the emotional lyrics.

The evening rounded off with an encore of Islands in the Stream, Shires-style which was the perfect finale.

Stars in the making? The Shires are well on their way.