Kip Moore brought his ‘Slowheart’ tour to London last week as he performed a sold out gig at Sheperds Bush O2, as part of the Country Music Week. From early in the day the queues outside the venue grew as UK Country fans vied for the best spot in what would be a packed venue. More proof, if proof were needed, that Country Music is as popular as ever in the UK. In fact at the very time Kip performed, just yards away at Bush Hall, “Whispering” Bob Harris would be announcing the line up for Country2Country 2018, the UK’s only multi day Country Music festival.
Kip Moore’s new album, ’Slowheart’ is his third studio album and comes hot on the tail of two excellent previous offerings. However, whilst his debut 2012 album, ‘Up All Night’, drew massive critical acclaim, the follow up in 2014, ‘Wild Ones’ was not quite so well loved by critics, although it is hugely loved by fans. In fact in between these albums there was a brilliant single ‘Dirt Road’, that, despite being loved by fans, has almost disappeared from view in live performances.
So with this third album, Kip was faced with a dilemma. Please the fans, or please the critics. There is no question that his fans love both his albums; they heartily sing back every word at him but every artist wants his music to be well regarded. This proved to be a stressful process and so to combat that Kip decided to take an extended break trekking across Iceland and Costa Rica, purposefully removing himself from the demands and expectations of the music industry.
In interview, Kip has said of the decision: ” I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to come back. I struggled with it. Even before my career took off, all I was doing was chasing music. For so many years, it was working odd jobs, working to make ends meet, writing and recording and always trying to prepare for when it did take off. It’s all I’ve done for thirteen years , I haven’t really had a moment to myself to sit and think.”
While abroad, it seems Kip was surfing every morning, rock climbing and sleeping through the whole night. He says he had ” an easiness” about himself and that this has filtered into the new album. Kip says the music was always where he “found joy” and that it was ” all the travel and the sleepless nights that were stacking up and beginning to be hard”. When he came back from his travels Kip turned his new music into the label and says he was rewarded with the most exuberance he’d ever seen at his label.
So after working on ‘Slowheart’ for a year, the music is out there and on Friday 6th he brought it to London. All of the hard work, or hard relaxation, seems to have worked as Kip mixed old and new seamlessly and took a rapturous crowd to height after height. Starting with second album opener ‘Wild Ones’, he really didn’t ever look back.
Mixing songs from all three of his albums, Kip’s performance ran to an impressive fourteen songs with five songs from ‘Slowheart’, four from ‘Wild Ones’ and three from ‘Up All Night’. On top of that there was a touching tribute to Tom Petty with a cover of ‘Learning To Fly’, and a brilliant cover of U2’s ‘Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For’, which featured singing from not only Kip but every band member, and also Drake White, who supported on the night. Somehow given the back story of Kip’s search for the perfect cocktail of critical and popular acclaim with his new album, the song may have become a battle cry for him and his band.
Slowly Kip is building a cult following and it’s no surprise that next year’s Country2Country festival at London’s O2 will feature Kip as one of the headline acts. I personally can’t wait to see him perform to a sold out arena and can see only more fans as a result. This would be no more than the singer deserves as he is surely one of the most generous acts around; before his performance at Shepherd’s Bush, he wandered out to spend time with queuing fans outside walking around the venue at least twice with no sign of any sort of entourage, just a smile and time for everyone.
Kip Moore is a singer who has said: “I told myself a long time ago, I want to lay my head on my pillow at night and know that I did this journey the way I wanted to do it, and not be influenced by all the outside pressures”, and his performance in London a few weeks ago should make him sleep easy in this regard. There couldn’t have been a fan who left the venue that night who didn’t feel that Kip’s music is an embodiment of what he’s about and what he wants to say. There’s a line in one of his old songs about a record producer who wants to put him in a Stetson and a rhinestone suit to make the Country faithful take to him. This man doesn’t need props, he’s “still growing up”, still “Reckless” and his Country heart and soul is laid bare for all to see every time he takes to the stage. Long may it continue!
Set list: Wild Ones, Plead the Fifth, Just Another Girl, The Bull, Hearts Desire, Bittersweet Company, Learning to Fly ( Tom Petty cover), I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, I’m To Blame, Hey Pretty Girl, Somethin’ bout a Truck, That Was Us, Fly Again & Guitar Man.