Friday, April 27, 2018

Kiefer Sutherland thrills capacity crowd at The Coach House

Kiefer Sutherland leading his band through an impressive 90-minute headlining set
of country and roots rock at The Coach House in Orange County, CA on April 26, 2018.
Kiefer Sutherland's performance at the Belly Up in Solana Beach, CA in May 2017 was one of my favorite concert performances of last year (read my review of that show here) so it should come as no surprise the artist's first-ever performance at The Coach House in Orange County, CA (delivered on Thursday night, April 26, 2018) marked another excuse to celebrate one of country music's true rising stars.
Kiefer Sutherland performing
on April 26, 2018.

Sure, the star of Designated Survivor has been an acclaimed actor for more than 30 years, but the release of his full-length debut album Down in a Hole in August 2016 was truly a surprise. Filled with detailed and confessional original material blending traditional and alt-country styles, the album's stellar songs gain even more depth via Sutherland's compelling concert appearances. That definitely proved to be the case over the length of a fast-moving, 90-minute performance as part of his 2018 Reckless Tour that was staged in San Juan Capistrano last night.

Country rocker Kiefer Sutherland.
While the Coach House set list featured included many of the same songs featured last year, there was an added confidence, depth and power this time around. In addition to Sutherland's obvious star power and bona fide talents as both singer and songwriter, credit the strength of a top-tier band featuring guitar great Michael Gurley (of DADA and Butterfly Jones fame), drummer Jess Calcaterra, guitarist Austin Valleijo and bassist Joseph DeLeo with further bolstering the night.

There was a strong rhythm to the night, with Sutherland and company coming out rocking with the song "Run to Him," Sutherland working a tambourine as he took the stage. Strong guitar work from both Gurley and Valleijo injected further firepower in the opener.  

The night featured uptempo countrified rockers, poignant ballads, and winning covers that consistently worked. There were also the concise but revealing asides where Sutherland would discuss the genesis of his own tracks and affection he had for the covers and the artists that created them in the first place.

There were many high marks of the night. The early part of the show featured the confessional blues-country tune "Reckless & Me" with Gurley's ethereal slide guitar work adorning Sutherland's heartfelt vocals; the emotional rocker "Going Home" with its big finish leading into the tender ballad "I'll Do Anything" came next.

A rousing rollicking cover of Patty Loveless' "Blame It On Your Heart" was pure fun; a cover of the late Merle Haggard's "The Bottle Let Me Down" was faithful in both its power and in traditional country stylings.

Kiefer Sutherland on April 26.
Late set highlight were just as powerful with the country-folk nugget "Faded Pair of Blue Jeans," haunting "Calling Out Your Name" (the ambitious arrangement spanned from a quiet opening to a sweeping Neil Young-styled blast to finish), Americana rocker "Down in a Hole" (complete with a duel between Gurley and Valleijo) and terrific honky tonk-worthy cover of Lone Justice's "Ways to be Wicked" adding to the momentum.

The show ended with palpable power. After performing the apt acoustic tribute to professional truck drivers ("Open Road"), Sutherland and his band were off to the races. They unleashed the mighty country rocker "Rebel Wind," a fitting freewheeling tribute to the late Tom Petty ("Honey Bee") and finally finished off the inspired night with a new original Latin rock track, "Agave."

To be sure, the same artistic talents Sutherland has displayed on screen are evident in his strengths as a singer, songwriter and sonic storyteller.

Visit Kiefer Sutherland's official music site here.
Rick Brantley performing at the
Coach House on April 26, 2018.

Opening the show was Macon, Georgia-spawned singer-songwriter Rick Brantley, whose Southern charm helped get the crowd to sing along on some of his fun-styled material but thankfully never masked the power of his probing acoustic numbers. Highlights of his 45-minute set included the sparse Bruce Springsteen-tinged "40 Days, 40 Nights," eloquent study of suffering, the affecting "Hurt People." His soulful cover of the Otis Redding classic "Try a Little Tenderness" was a justified crowd pleasing moment with everyone riveted by Brantley's inspired vocals and strong rhythms on his acoustic guitar.

Review by Robert Kinsler

Photography by Bob Steshetz

Kiefer Sutherland Concert at the Coach House Setlist
Run to Him / Something You Love / Reckless & Me / Going Home / I'll Do Anything / Blame It On Your Heart (Patty Loveless cover) / The Bottle Let Me Down (Merle Haggard cover) / Faded Pair of Blue Jeans / Saskatchewan / Calling Out Your Name / All She Wrote / Down in a Hole / Can't Stay Away / Ways to be Wicked (Lone Justice cover) / Rebel Wind / Honey Bee (Tom Petty cover) / Agave

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