I’m not going to lie, as I stood tapping my feet and clapping my hands to that country guitar on “From this Valley,” I felt like the real deal. Not as much as the man standing next to me complete with a moustache, Levi jeans and a cowboy hat -going for Butch Cassidy and ending up with the naked cowboy- but pretty close.

The Civil Wars have a way of making you feel like you’re back in Alabama listening to an intimate duo sing their southern ancestors music, while the reality is you’re standing in Shepherds Bush Empire with 1,700 other Londoners and 300 Americans. If selling out the empire in London is anything to go by, this duo has made country music accessible and relatable to a worldwide audience, and dare I say it, trendy.

Alone on stage with an acoustic guitar and a piano, the Civil Wars charmed London with their perfectly harmonized vocals, intimacy and mischievous banter with one another and the audience.  Exuding elegance with Joy’s chic black dress and John Paul White’s suit and bowtie, they floated from intimate country/folk numbers like “20 Years” and “C’est la Vie” to their big hits “Poison and Wine” and “Barton Hollow” with utter grace.  The crowd laughed at their playful vocals during their cover of Billie Jean, cooed when Joy dedicated a number to her unborn child, and sighed dreamily at their chemistry on stage. As if London wasn’t smitten enough, the duo covered Portishead “Sour Times “and the night was theirs.

A 5 out of 5 to the Civil Wars for a truly spectacular performance and giving London just enough country to make us feel the part.

Their album Barton Hollow is available on iTunes and everywhere else.

For more live dates and information on the Civil Wars check their website

Words: Emily Ames

Images: Paul Hudson & Dave Curtis

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