Gig review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown with photography by Ken Harrison.

It’s hot. Very hot! The weatherman tells us the hottest night in something like 40 years. So it’s a great night to go into the city centre to the mid sized venue in the O2 Academy to be even hotter! But then again we have a Hollywood ‘A’ lister in town. So who wouldn’t give up their evening to spend in the delectable company of Kiefer Sutherland, this time as musician and rock god, on his ‘Not Enough Whiskey’ Tour.

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Support tonight comes from Sound of the Sirens. In their own words they are … a foot stomping, heart-rending, crowd engaging female Folk/rock duo whose strengths lie in their passion, conviction and chemistry. “ Abbe Martin and Hannah Wood have a new album out ‘For All Our Sins’ and are definitely worth catching up with – tracks such as ‘The Circus’ and ‘Chaos’. The subject of  ‘The Voices’ is mental health having being moved by the campaign #itaffectsme. Chris Evans is already raving about them and their catchy foot-stomping harmonised vocals certainly capture the crowd tonight.

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So. The Academy 2 is about three-quarters full tonight, and I can speculate than many of the punters have popped along to see the man, rather than his music. Keifer Sutherland, star of 80’s Bratpack movies – ‘ Stand By Me’,  vampire David in ‘The Lost Boys’, westerns ‘Young Guns’ (I and II), ‘Flatliners’ and ‘ A Few Good Men’. Taking a break he turned his skills to rodeo, before back to our screens, this time the smaller, home variety with cult and hit TV show ’24’ as Jack Bauer. Recently he’s been playing the POTUS and tonight a change of tack – this is Sutherland and his music.

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Big cheer as the band take to the stage and Sutherland, be-hatted in a fedora(?) and leader waistcoat, gets a mild scream from the lasses in the crowd. Band starts up with ‘Can’t Stay Away’ – country rock mixed with blues. Tonight Sutherland is a rock god.

“How you’all doing?… We’re gonna do a poem…” His guitar packs up, and stops to restart the track…. “Let me get this right…” Phones are in the air filming away, as tonight’s protagonist and his band of brothers are paying ‘I’ll Do Anything.’

Sutherland is chatty in between tunes, he tells us he’s been longing to play England, and is noticeably chuffed, thankful and hugely flattered that people have actually come out to see him and his band. Especially when he expects we’re here to see him play 13 to 14 tracks we’ve never heard. This ‘Not Enough Whiskey’ tour is to support his new and debut album ‘Down in a Hole.’ For Sutherland it was a really personal journey in the recording of this album. ‘Truth in Your Eyes’ about suffering the loss of a loved one, and the need to reach out for support.

‘Shockingly’ many of the songs on his album are about drinking  – it’s pretty well known that Sutherland does indeed, like his falling down water. The title of his tour and the next track came to him when he discovered that he was a slow-learner, as at 3.45am, off his face, sitting in a bar, he wondered why he was still there. Before slithering off the bar stool, out cold.

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He’s a huge fan of Johnny Cash and Kris  Kristofferson, inspired by their honesty in music. He may not have been to prison, but he has been to jail (he quips), so he knows all about second chances. New single and country track ‘Shirley Jean’ is about a prisoner, writing his last letter to his loved one, before he is executed in the morning. As the track roles on he hugs his guitar.

Each track he plays there is a story behind it, and Sutherland is a great story teller, that instantly recognizable voice relating tales and experiences – ‘The Bottle Let Me Down’ a Merle Haggard cover – has an anecdote to compliment. Haggard died three weeks after Sutherland met him – this is his hello to him.  “Ways To Be Wicked’ includes a swear word on the second verse – which Sutherland duly apologizes  for in advance.

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He reckons, in his life, he’s woken up a handful of times when everything;s been perfect. He’s on the verge of being cool. So he wrote a song when he was in this frame of mind as opposed to sulking in the corner. And it turned out rather scary – attitude and bass and stuff: ‘All She Wrote.’ First set completed with title track ‘ Down In A Hole.’

The cheers for the encore are loud, genuine and heartfelt – as he gives us the best anecdote has to be the story of his dad and a 1966 Ferrari. His parents split up when he was 4 or 5, and him and his twin sister, spent time in the company of his dad, Donald. His dad is indeed, eccentric, and a true character in every sense of the word, so him and his sister went from rules and regs to none. At all. His dad was filing ‘Kelly’s Heroes’ and he was a 6’4″ lanky long haired, bearded, leather clad dude driving his kids to school and everywhere in his 3 seater 1966 Ferrari. With a 8 track player. A musical device. Playing this album. Forever. Sutherland and his band break into Dylan’s ‘Knockin  on Heaven’s Door.’ Tonight is completed by ‘Rebel Wind’. He wrote this on the bus.

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So from movie star to rock star? Sutherland is clearly having a blast doing what he’s doing, and is massively professional in doing so. He was a ‘rock’ god on stage – and we definitely believed it. He was also massively comfortable in his own space, if you’ve seen Sutherland interviewed, there is a personal defence to his interviews;  there was none of that tonight – he felt really open, relaxed on stage. For Sutherland this is a serous passion, this is not a front, or acting performance.

Fair play – in reflection this was definitely an interesting one. Not just because hey, it was ‘Kiefer Sutherland’ – iconic actor on stage, but it was a personal journey for him, that he takes intensely seriously, intermixed with a fascinating insight into the person behind the star.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.


Setlist
Can’t Stay Away
I’ll Do Anything
Truth in Your Eyes
Not Enough Whiskey
Going Home
Shirley Jean
The Bottle Let Me Down (Merle Haggard cover)
Saskatchewan
Ways To Be Wicked
Honey Bee (Tom Petty cover)
Down In A Hole

Encore:
Calling Your Name
Sundown (Gordon Lightfoot cover)
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover)
Rebel Wind / Hold On Tight.

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