The headliners exploded onto the stage with a barrage of songs including ‘Lover’s Game’ from their latest album and culminating in a cover of ‘Proud Mary’ with a performance that left the audience gasping. More songs from the new album followed, gradually taking down the tempo to ‘Yesterday’s Burn’, a ballad that could easily become a country standard. It also allowed us to admire the superb voices of Tanya and Michael Trotter (the married couple who are War and Treaty). There are many charismatic male and female vocal pairings in country music, like Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, but the Trotters come across as more authentic.
Country music is just one of their many influences. The excellent backing musicians were dressed in matching black ‘western’ shirts and Michael was similarly attired. However, Tanya in her skin-tight leathers, reflected the rock vibe of some of their material. Their live performance definitely draws on a broad range of classic American soul, country and rock.
They took the opportunity to preview some new songs, including the rocking opener ‘Tunnel Vision’. Midway through the set they invited us to boo an upcoming new song if we didn’t like it! It was the gloriously retro soul of ‘I Choose Love’ (which probably would have been a big hit in the early 70’s). At the end all I could hear was cheers and applause.
Unfortunately, we didn’t hear their full set. An audience member fell and badly cut his head, so the performance paused whilst he recovered enough to be helped out and receive medical attention. Those close by were visibly shocked. The band came back with the gospel-influenced ‘Set My Soul on Fire’ from their 2017 album ‘Down to the River’. This segued into covers of ‘Autumn Leaves’ and ‘Summertime’. These relaxed songs were perfect for settling the audience and Michael provided light relief by singing verses in the styles of different singers including the late Louis Armstrong.
We were treated to a few lines from ‘Hey Driver, a song off a new Zach Bryan album they are featured on, before closing with their great new single ‘Stretch Out’. They didn’t have time for a full encore, but instead they came into the audience for an acapella version of ‘Love Like There’s No Tomorrow’ from their 2018 album ‘Healing Tide’. Many in the capacity crowd had seen them at the Long Road Festival only a few days earlier and had come to see them again. It wasn’t just superfans; this also included people who had seen them there for the first time.
This was the last of their UK gigs. They return to the USA to continue touring in support of their latest album, and also opening on Chris Stapleton’s tour.
Support was provided by Foreign Affairs, a Bristol-based duo of brothers who had also just performed at the Long Road Festival. Although only two guys with guitars, an arsenal of pedals and gizmos helped them deliver a range of songs from ballads with contemporary stylings to stomping rock. This up-and-coming band have their own headlining shows in October at the Louisiana in Bristol and the Green Note in Camden.