Review: Hollywood star Kiefer Sutherland shows Ipswich how it’s done with UK country music tour
- Credit: Rachel Edge
It’s not often that a town like Ipswich gets to enjoy the appearance of a genuine Americana performer, making the lengthy flight from stateside to East Anglia.
It's much more unusual when that country singer happens to be one of the biggest stars of US TV and film.
But despite the drizzly welcome a midweek Ipswich gave to Kiefer Sutherland, the warm, heroic cheers the Corn Exchange crowd greeted the famous actor with made up for the weather's shortcomings.
The 53-year-old may be best known for the likes of hit TV show 24 or mid '90s blockbusters like The Three Musketeers and Young Guns, but with two albums under his belt he is now an established singer/songwriter too.
He may be following in the footsteps of his Hollywood brethren Jeff Bridges and Steven Seagal in ploughing the country music furrow in his downtime between big screen gigs, but seeing his performance at the Corn Exchange proved this isn't any cash-in while he is unemployed - it is all about the music.
He proudly wears his influences on his sleeve - the likes of Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson get a namecheck, and listening to the down-and-out jail cell blues of Shirley Jean or the epic troubadour musings of Open Road, it is easy to see how they seep into his music.
Indeed, his familiar rasp and life-thoroughly-lived demeanour make for the perfect marriage with a series of middle of the road country rock tunes that linger on the tastebuds like the whiskey he so frequently sings about.
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As you'd expect, all the required country lyrics are ticked - drinking, jeans, heartbreak and hellraising, most evident on the bar room swagger of the rabble-rousing This is How it's Done or Going Home.
But there are a few surprises too. Who knew that the man behind the macho Jack Bauer spent Friday nights at home watching Bridget Jones' Diary as inspiration for debut album love song I'll Do Anything, or that Saskatchewan was a paean for his mother during the third of her strokes?
Of course, with such an established career as an actor in his back pocket it is hardly surprising that most of the audience weren't familiar with all of his songs, but he very much lets the music do the talking and should be hailed for his songwriting nous. Tunes like Something You Love displays those qualities by the bucketload.
The night ends with a cover of Dylan's Knockin' on Heaven's Door and the tequila-tinged salsa of Agave.
Support came from harmony-led trio The Adelaides, channelling the kind of sound which made Lady Antebellum so big.
But if the night proved anything it is that, yes, Ipswich very much embraces country music. And with The Shires heading back to the Regent in just a few short months, fans won't have to wait long for their next fix of country bigtimers.