As the sixth and final season of hit country music drama Nashville airs this year, it’s the end of an era for fans worldwide. While viewers prepare to say goodbye to their much-loved characters after six eventful years, the Nashville Farewell Tour gave one last chance to see a handful of the stars of the show choose and perform their favourite tracks – and there’s certainly plenty to choose from. As fans of the show know, it’s been an emotional journey. So it’s no surprise that the show has gained such a loyal following all over the world that truly connect with the musicians that form the beating heart, making it feel much more than a TV show and more like a global family.
Cardiff is no exception to the adoration for the show, as fans flocked to the sold-out Motorpoint Arena on Friday night kitted out in their cowboy boots and hats, to welcome Jonathan Jackson, Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio, Charles Esten and Chris Carmack to the Welsh capital with open arms. When proceedings got underway, the crowd were quickly labelled the “most rowdy of the tour” – like anyone could expect less of Cardiff on a Friday night.
Performances came in a rotation of stars, each taking it in turn to sing a couple of songs before handing over to the next, and each received a larger and larger standing ovation as the night went on. Highlights included Jonathan Jackson’s rendition of ‘Unchained Melody’ which went down an absolute storm, proving himself a vocal powerhouse, and Clare Bowen’s ‘Black Roses’, a slow tune from an early season of the show which received such a mindblowing reaction from the crowd that Clare visibly started to tear up onstage.
Sam Palladio’s most-loved contribution came in the form of one of his own songs ‘Wake Me Up In Nashville’. He opened by telling the touching tale of how his grandfather, a WWII pilot, was called back from America to join the war but didn’t have the chance to say goodbye to his Nashville girlfriend. What followed was a melodic rendition of the story and what his grandfather must have been thinking at the time – leaving not one dry eye in the house.
Chris Carmack worked the ladies in the room up a treat with his charm and banter between songs – not a world away from his on-screen character – before smashing out fan favourite ‘What If I Was Willing’. But of course, what would a night in Nashville be without the main man himself: Charles Esten. Charismatic and full of energy, Charles rounded off the night with ‘Sanctuary’, the cheeky ‘He Ain’t Me’ and a short burst of Oasis’ ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’ – in amongst screams of adoration.
If the night proved anything, it’s that although the curtain is closing on a show that has held a place in many people’s hearts for six years, it’s certainly not the last we hear from any of the musicians involved. All hugely talented singer/songwriters in their own right, the show has provided them with the excellent starting point to get out there touring of their own accord. A huge hand must be given to the band, not only backing up the live show but making the show what it truly is – a celebration of country music. And as the final song came to an end, we waved farewell to five characters we’ve come to know and love, wishing them well for whatever comes next.