Review: Tenille Townes’  London Headline Show 29th August 2023

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On a Tuesday evening in London when Country music fans were spoiled for choice ( four gigs to pick from as far as I was aware?) I found myself worshipping at the altar of one of my favourite artists, Canadian born Tenille Townes , the religious reference bring totally intentional given the venue was St Pancras New Church.  As is the case with most churches, the acoustics were stunning, the pews were very hard, and despite this one having no pop up bar it was permitted to bring along your own drink (alcohol included!) which Tenille took advantage of too,  telling us she had been sipping rose wine back stage . 

Opening the evening’s entertainment was UK’s Bailey Tomkinson, an artist who had somehow slipped under my radar but one I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on now.  Look out for her upcoming single “Indigo Blue” written as an apology to her partner who accompanied her on lead guitar for the majority of her set which finished with an impressive cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case Of You”, picked in part as like Tenille she is of course Canadian.

More artist information here

Tenille has been visiting us in London since 2018’s Country Music Week and has amassed a loyal following here in the intervening years , and she mentioned on several occasions throughout her 80 minute set how much she always enjoys playing in the capital and appreciates our continued support. In stark contrast to her last show here, a full band rocker at The Scala, this intimate performance was just the artist and her acoustic guitar which provided ample opportunity for Tenille  to engage with her fans. “Pretend we’re all hanging out in a living room” she said, adding later that we won the prize for being the most attentive and appreciative audience. We heard stories behind the songs, something which find particularly interesting, and I loved the tale of how a chance encounter with Bryan Adams on a staircase led to her collaborating with him on “The Thing That Wrecks You”. Oh and there was an opportunity for requests to be played too. 

Opening with the song that introduced her music to many , “Somebody’s Daughter “ we were treated to a good mix from her back catalogue together with a couple of tracks from her most recent EP, “Train Track Worktapes “ (stream here which Tenille explained was inspired by her travelling by train last December in freezing conditions from Montreal to Calgary, playing up to 6 free shows a day while encouraging the local communities to donate to their food banks in return. She really does have one of the biggest hearts of any artist out there. The fact that she was performing in a church was particularly poignant for her when it came to songs such as “When I Meet My Maker” and “Jersey On The Wall ( I’m Just Asking)”. We also got to hear an as yet unrecorded new song, I think entitled “I’ll Take You As You Are” ( apologies if that’s incorrect Tenille!)  inspired by self observation and in particular those she feels able to open up to and show her vulnerabilities. 

Bringing a very special evening to an end by unplugging her guitar and walking up and down the aisle performing “Hallelujah”and returning to the stage after rapturous applause to sing “Wonderful World“, both covers obviously very venue-appropriate, Tenille then thanked all involved behind the scenes over here along with her hard working manager. Promising to come back for as long as we turn up to show our support, this show really was Tenille at her very best in my opinion and I hope we will see her again before too long. 

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