Kiefer Sutherland, Cambridge Junction, 24th February 2020

As we get used to the lack of live reviews, a few AUK scribes have dug into their recent archives to offer a few belated reviews… Kiefer Sutherland, yes, you read that correctly, and yes, it is the same running-with-a-gun action star of ‘24′. Son of Donald, Kiefer, an actor turned country singer, is touring to promote his second album ‘Reckless and Me’. The first, ‘Down in a Hole’,  was the surprisingly positive outcome of a bet with a friend.

He sings of his earlier days as a rodeo rider and of his horse Reckless, he sings about lost love and drinking too much, and a song a trucker wrote for him about life on the road: All in all covering most country song bases.

Sutherland’s sound is well-produced and instantly feel-good. He can sing, write, and plays the acoustic guitar. As a bonus, his performance is exactly what you’d expect from a second-generation well-seasoned actor: fun and with high levels of showmanship.

Cambridge Junction was the perfect sized venue for this big-star-under-the-radar gig. The room was comfortably rammed, and the sound, which can vary, was warm and loud. His band played impeccably with a pleasing array of country instruments, including a lap steel. Sutherland played electric guitar on the last song, ‘This is how it’s Done’, but played with gusto when he did. The encore was a cover of ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ which was a pleasantly moving ending, coloured by stories of father-son bonding and road trips.

Sutherland played to an older audience who, from limited polling, were there for nostalgic reasons, remembering him from ‘Lost Boys’ and ‘24′. He played to a receptive and appreciative crowd who seemed in thrall to his magnetic charm and slick anecdotes. He came to entertain and achieved that, but is that all a concert is? The ‘Live in Berlin’ releases contain almost identical jokes and stories as introductions which for some could break the illusion of honesty and crack the intimacy. Sutherland is an actor and seemed to be playing the role of country singer rather than concerning himself with contributing to music or conveying a message. This line of thought brings up questions of what role live music plays, is it mere entertainment, a show to be repeated and performed, or is it a window of aural connection between player and listener. Does Hollywood have a place in Americana? Americana UK believes the best thing is to go to more gigs and do more research when gigs resume.

Independent indie music promoter Green Mind Gigs thankfully brings many folk and country artists as a welcome sideline to Cambridge and the surrounds, scouring the Cambridge Folk Festival and the local Black Fen Folk Club for good souled music. Kiefer Sutherland was not a mustang in the fens, but a cowboy passing through.

Photo credit: Martin Porter @mart_arts

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