Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: Concert Review

As I mentioned last week, we had quite the musical smorgasbord in Knoxville over the weekend. Brendan James Wright, Chris Knight, The Felice Brothers, Justin Townes Earle, Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch, Old Crow Medicine Show, Van Eaton & Friends, and The Steeldrivers all played somewhere in or around town this weekend. The biggest “event,” of course, took place Friday night at World’s Fair Park when the Old Crow Medicine Show and a few thousand of their closest friends gathered for The Big Surprise Tour.

By all accounts, OCMS and friends put on a great show, but I doubt it held any more surprises than the show I saw on Saturday night at the Bijou Theatre. Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson played for nearly two hours with a mix of songs from their 2008 collaboration Rattlin’ Bones, tunes from each of their solo careers, and a few carefully chosen covers as well.
As for the surprises on Saturday night… I’ll try to go through them one by one.
The biggest surprise for me was how much I enjoyed the songs from Shane’s solo catalogue. Rattlin’ Bones served as my introduction to Shane’s music, but I had never heard his voice independent of Kasey’s. Shane played two songs from his latest solo effort Familiar Ghosts, and I was blown away by both. I don’t want to say too much about it here, because I would like to give the album a proper review of its own later on. For now, just know that the album is not yet commercially available in the United States, but you can find it on iTunes.
There were also a few surprise guests on hand for the show. The concert was billed as just Kasey and Shane, and they played a good deal of the show together with no one else on stage. Even so, I probably should not have been surprised when Kasey’s dad, Bill Chambers, sat in on several songs. He’s appeared on most of her albums, including Rattlin’ Bones, and has always been involved in her career. It was nice to see him on stage.
The bigger surprise was the presence of Kym Warner of The Greencards. It turns out that Kym and Kasey are both from the same small town in Australia and have known each other since childhood. Kym now lives in Nashville, and made the drive to Knoxville to see his friends. Of course… he “just happened” to bring his mandolin along with him and found himself on stage for four or five songs at the end of the night. At one point, Kym played a riff that seemed to amaze even the people on stage with him. I saw Kasey turn to Shane and mouth the words, “That was awesome.”
A few songs also got a bit of a face lift for the show. It seems Shane found an old upright piano somewhere in the bowels of the Bijou and brought it out on stage. We were consequently treated to a version of Kasey’s standard “The Captain” with piano accompaniment instead of guitar. Shane also gave us a solo version of “Once in a While” from Rattlin’ Bones on the keys. It made for a nice addition to the show, and really showcased another element of Shane’s talents.
The surprises didn’t stop there either. It seems Kasey has written a children’s book called Little Kasey and the Lost Music. To coincide with the book, Kasey and her dad will release a children’s album called Kasey, Poppa Bill, and the Little Hillbillies. She says the idea behind the album is to have plenty of songs for the little ones to enjoy while also tossing in a few tracks for their parents as well. We were treated to two songs from the album. The first was a duet between “Little Kasey” and “Poppa Bill” that was based on all the questions she would ask him as a child. The second was full-tilt romp about what might happen if all the animals in the Australian Outback started a band. Have you ever seen a dingo, playing a bongo, riding on a kangaroo? Me neither, but it sounds like fun.
All of that is just to say how enjoyable the concert was overall. It was never predictable and kept me entertained throughout. Kasey and Shane engaged in easy banter throughout the show and kept the audience laughing with them all night. I always enjoy a show more when I know that the artists are really having fun on stage. It always comes through in their performance, and it’s easy to see that Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson enjoy making music together.
As great as the show was, however, the biggest thrill for me came afterwards. Because WDVX was the presenting station, I was asked to do the stage announcements before the show. Because of that… I had a couple of backstage passes and my wife and I were able to go backstage for a private meet and greet after the show.
I expected to just have the standard exchange where we would gush over how much we enjoyed the show, and then we’d have a minute or two of uncomfortable small talk before leaving and letting them get on with their lives.
In one final surprise, however, we found ourselves chatting with Kasey and Shane for nearly 15 minutes about the show, jet lag, Old Crow (they went to the Big Surprise Tour), WDVX, their kids, and the music industry in general. They were as nice and genuine as any artists I have ever met, and that makes me enjoy their music just that much more. All things considered, it was one of the best concert experiences I’ve ever had. Go see them if you get the chance.
I’ll leave you with a video I found of “The Captain” set to piano. It isn’t from this weekend, but it should give you an idea of what we saw. I’m also putting up a from Rattlin’ Bones for you to sample. I know it’s one I’ve shared before, but I’ve talked about this album a few times here, and I’ll be talking about it again when I get into my Americana Music Awards Nominees posts… so I don’t want to give away the whole thing. Just make sure you click the “Buy Album” link after you listen to the song. You won’t be disappointed.
Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: The Devil’s Inside My Head (Buy Album)

One Response to “Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson: Concert Review”

  1. I own Shane's “It's A Movie,” and it's excellent. Quite Neil Finn-like, which isn't a bad thing at all. “Rattlin' Bones” is awesome.

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