Sam Palladio might not yet be a household name, but his character on hit U.S. television show Nashville just might be – Gunnar Scott anyone? Since making waves when it hit U.S. TV network ABC in 2012, the Country music-driven drama set and filmed in Tennessee’s Music City has gone from strength to strength despite relocating to its more natural home on the Country Music Television (CMT) cable network for its fifth season.
Strange to think that it was British actor and musician Palladio, hailing from Cornwall, that was the first regular cast member to be cast for the show. And despite it being fictional television, the actors themselves bring a pedigree of musicianship to rival any in the Country music world. So it’s little surprise that we find ourselves catching Sam playing a show, what’s more surprising is that it’s an opening slot for Foo Fighters’ guitarist Chris Shiflett at the tiny 200-capacity Water Rats venue in London’s Kings Cross, given Palladio has been touring with his Nashville castmates at much larger arenas across the country, including three shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
“Good evening Water Rats, thanks for coming out, there’s a few more people than when I used to play here five years ago” smirked the 30-year-old, stepping out onto the low-rise stage sporting a freshly bleached crop of hair before strumming the gentle intro to Nashville TV show tune I Will Fall, the stripped-back rendition somewhat haunting, shushing the crowd pay attention.
“This is a really cool thing to do, 2011 was the last time I played this room, I got to go off and live in Nashville for a few years, got to make a TV show – has anyone seen the show?” he asked to huge cheers from the small audience. “I’ve never seen it, heard it was shit” he quipped, to chuckles from the crowd. “I’ve been lucky enough to make music in Nashville, meeting people like the wonderful Chris Shiflett” he continued before diving into original song Headed For The Fire.
“It feels kind of crazy to be able to say this but my castmates and I are on tour in the UK right now. I jumped off for a few days to pop own to Cornwall to go see my folks, but we just did three nights at the Royal Albert Hall! I thought ‘three nights at the Royal Albert Hall and then down to Water Rats, perfect’. I love this kind of thing, to see your faces, performing is small rooms like this so thanks for packing it out” before picking out the delicate intro to Hello Heartbreak, the story-telling ballad getting the crowd swaying along.
“So this is a really cool opportunity for me to share some brand new music, I hope that’s ok with you guys” Palladio said in a grateful tone before introducing new song Death Disco to more chuckles from the crowd as he described the new cut being about a “party at the end of the world” given the current political climate across the world, his vocal styling oddly reminiscent of bluesman John Mayer.
Explaining how he ended up supporting Chris Shiflett, Palladio recounted how one of the guitar techs on his television show had grown up with the guitarist in Santa Barbara and had taken him along to a Foo Fighters show where he’d gotten to meet Shiflett and the rest of the band, before launching into new song Sugar, the slow ballad showcasing Palladio’s delicate song-craft.
Nashville show tune Fade Into You was up next, the slow-drive tune once again chilling the Water Rats to near silence, a few in the crowd swaying along and mouthing the words as Palladio picked up both parts of the song, traditionally sung as a duet with actress Clare Bowen and her alter-ego Scarlett O’Connor, before launching next new cut: A Little Fucked Up.
Homecoming Queen was prefaced was its origin tale of when Palladio’s girlfriend was voted Homecoming Queen at her high school at the same time as her father was discovered to be cheating on her mother, a story the singer felt was perfect for Country song material, the crowd chuckling at the various references during the song he had mentioned in the story.
Wake Me Up In Nashville tells of Palladio’s own Birmingham-based 96-year-old grandfather’s wartime tale of love and heartache when he was stationed in the U.S., this tune now a staple of the Nashville In Concert tours with the Brit on the bill. The delicate and sad tune all the more heart-breaking to hear with knowledge of the true story behind it.
“I did record a little record a couple of months ago that’s ready to go when the time is right, we film this TV show for ten months so it’s a crazy thing to weigh up when the best time to get on the road and promote it is, hopefully it will be with you by the end of the year” Palladio explained before closing his set with a cut from said record, fast-paced tune Lightning Bones.
If this solo show was anything to go by, we can expect great things from Sam Palladio when he hits the road in earnest to promote his forthcoming L.P. And with friends like his Nashville castmates, writers such as duo Striking Matches, British Country hit-makers The Shires and Chris Shiflett on his speed dial, the world of British Country music will have much to be proud of.
Live review and photos of Sam Palladio @ The Water Rats by Kalpesh Patel on 14th June 2017.
Read Kalpesh’s review of one of this year’s Nashville In Concert shows here: Live: Nashville In Concert @ Royal Albert Hall
Read Nil’s fabulous review of Chris Shiflett’s headline Water Rats slot here: Live: Chris Shiflett @ The Water Rats
Kalpesh has more music photography up on his flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate