Live Review: Clare Bowen @ Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

Clare Bowen has just finished a six season stint playing reluctant singer songwriter Scarlett O’Connor on the hit show Nashville and is now forging her own path in the music industry for real, leaving a trail of joy and glitter behind her. Last week she released her lovely debut album and arrived in Glasgow to perform as part of her first solo U.K. tour, backed by a band which included her husband, brother and long time Nashville music director Colin Linden. The show was a warm and friendly family affair, showcasing a singer with enough charisma and sparkle to light up any room.

Opening the evening was Timothy James Bowen, Clare’s younger brother who proved that talent runs deep in this Australian family’s genes. Bowen’s songs were full of emotional moments contained in a surprisingly authentic roots sound. By the end of his set his rich voice and charm offensive meant the whole crowd had fallen in love with him (and hey wearing a kilt never fails to go down well with us Scots).

Clare then bounded on stage, also wearing tartan, and her enthusiasm was utterly infectious from start to finish. Her exuberant performances were a central feature of the previous ensemble Nashville live shows – world’s away from the shy and introverted character she plays on screen. Perhaps this contrast just proves how much Bowen wants to create her own musical identity distinct from the show. Of her original material highlights included Doors and Corridors, which she dedicated to her parents and Aves’ Song, for her friend who survived a suicide attempt. The stand out track on the album Let It Rain, also really shone live.

Still the evening also consisted of a number of songs from the show’s brilliant soundtrack, like the epic Black Roses and If I Didn’t Know Better, as well as Telescope (originally sung by the character Juliette Barnes). In the end some of the songs on Nashville are so good you feel it would be a waste if no one ever sang them again.

Some of the songs from the show required her husband Brandon Robert Young to play the ‘Gunnar’ part – like on If I Didn’t Know Better and they again duetted on the utterly lovely ‘All The Beds I’ve Made’, from her album. Later she gave him, her brother and Linden a chance to sing one of their own songs each, showing how generous and unstarry a performer she is. Collaboration and community were central to Nashville’s success, so it is nice to see her solo career continue in that vein.

Bowen brought an effervescent energy to songs like Tide Rolls In, Little by Little and a medley of country classics including Dolly’s 9 to 5. She’s a crowd pleaser, even if some of her songs like Warrior come from dark places (both she and her brother have survived cancer). During the encore she sat on the edge of the stage for When the Right One Comes Along, before finishing on the show’s unofficial theme song – the glorious ‘A Life That’s Good’.

Clare told us her hope for her music was just to ‘make a little corner of the world glow’ and this night of love, light and pixie dust did just that.

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