CLARE BOWEN @ Astor Theatre gets 8.5/10

Clare Bowen @ The 
Astor Theatre
w/ Imogen Clark, Timothy James Bowen
Thursday, September 27, 2018


Showing that country music is a team sport, the opener for this evening was Clare Bowen’s sibling Timothy James Bowen. The younger, much larger and hairier of the Bowens played a short set of songs about love, happiness and his wife. Anchor was full of Bowen’s controlled falsetto as he spoke of the support of his partner in helping him through a cancer scare. Bowen’s song in support of marriage equality, Love is Love had perfect sentiment, but lacked the melody to match, yet he showed in his brief time on stage that he could win over a crowd with simple songs that appeal to the masses.

With two albums under her belt, Imogen Clark was the most established performer of the night. The Blue Mountains native played tunes from both of her albums with Collide and Late Night Girl making early appearances. Clark has prominent cheekbones, a strong voice and an earnest take on the roots genre. It was a fine set from the assiduous performer, but the night was all about the Bowen family.

It is a often a tough gig to transition from screen star to well regarded musician in your own right, but Clare Bowen is one of the rare few who are well on the way. As a lead character in the Nashville TV series she has learnt her craft with a crack band of musicians around her and it shows in her energetic live performance. Kicking off with My Song (Where I Belong) from the show, Bowen didn’t hide from her roots. The Bowen original Doors & Corridors spoke of her time spent in hospitals during her youth due to serious illness, and was one of many songs to appear from her just released debut album.

Having met Brandon Robert Young on the set of Nashville, the two formed a bond that led to a romantic partnership, but it was their voices that were in harmony during the well loved duet of If I Didn’t Know Better. Bowen was all glitter and positivity with feathers in her hair and sparkle on her skirt, but her songs hinted at a darker matter with Ave’s Song which tells of depression and suicide, remembered for its memorable chorus and hopeful delivery.

The spotlight was ceded to Bowen’s husband Bradon Robert Young, who provided one of the high points of the evening with his dynamic delivery of piano-led single Hate It For You. If Young has an album of tunes like this in him, he will be selling out venues on his own in no time. He has star power by the bucket load.

There were high energy moments that had Bowen dancing down the isles and hugging people in crowd as well as glorious sombre reflections that found her sitting on the edge of the stage for a stripped back take on When The Right One Comes Along. Bowen with her flowing skirt and positive energy and honest fondness for the crowd presented like a cross between Stevie Nicks and Glinda the Good Witch. Little By Little highlighted the pure tone of the diminutive singer’s voice, with a faster full band take on Black Roses showing the energy and conviction of her performance.

A country medley of 9-5/Folsom Prison Blues/The Gambler played to her audience’s taste, while a similar theme saw the signature Nashville TV Series singalong A Life That’s Good round out a highly entertaining and affirming performance. In making the transition from screen to acetate, Bowen and has placed herself in a far better position that the likes of Keanu Reeves or Juliette Lewis, yet she still has a considerable way to go before reaching Kylie Minogue levels of popularity. For now, she is more that happy to be selling out theatres and auditoriums worldwide, and providing a top notch feel good evening.


Photos by Linda Dunjey