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Live Review: Darius Rucker – 4th May 2024 – Eventim Apollo, London, UK

4 min read
Last night saw Hootie hitmaker @dariusrucker return to London to a sell out show at @EventimApollo . Our full review....

As the year starts to build up on the live music front and becomes increasingly busier for UK venues to host world class international acts in the lead up to summer, London Country aficionados braved the still-chilling May weather to head over to West London’s Eventim Apollo last night to catch 90’s rock icon, Darius Rucker.

Known for his time as principal songwriter and lead vocalist of two-time Grammy Award winning outfit, Hootie & The Blowfish, Rucker turned his attention to Country music back in 2008 with the release of his first album in the genre, Learn To Live. Since then he has gone on to become one of the best selling and most respected artists of the genre, scoring a handful of hits including his number one debut single, Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It and making waves as a black artist in Country music long before Beyonce.

Celebrating the release of his latest record, Carolyn’s Boy – an ode to the superstar’s mother who passed her son found fame – Rucker is back in the UK to play songs from the LP for his dedicated Hootie and solo fanbase and a fanbase that filled the Eventim Apollo very early with their cowboy hats, caps and flannel t-shirts in time for the singers sturdy 28 song set.

Cracking the lid on the show, Rucker delivered a bouncy version of new album fan favourite, Have a Good Time – an appropriate and encouraging title and start to the show with the crowd warming up their support vocals as the musician prowled the stage dressed casually in cap, maroon t-shirt and jeans, showing us early on that this show was substance over style.

Beers and Sunshine was a catchy early addition while strings were introduced to the set on For The First Time thanks to his violin playing band mate – one of 6 long time Rucker band members that spread themselves across the width of the stage and would periodically join the frontman at the front for short choreographed moments during the night.

The icon of 90’s soft rock was the ever-charming performer as he danced around the stage to fans that were frenzied right from the get go as they belted out numbers like solo number one Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It, This and a foot-thumping cover of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues alongside support act Tyler Booth who was invited back on stage to perform alongside the singer in the nights token duet. Even if the vocal balance between the two singers was a little low, the track proved a popular one with the fans.

A few hit and miss covers were thrown into the mix with Rucker offering his own take on some of his peers’ works including the Nash collaborative favourite. A rendition of Tim McGraw’s I Like It, I Love It and some homegrown love for The Zuton’s Valerie beamed within the set and were lapped up by the crowd. A mid-section performance where Rucker announced “Let us go back to a time we love called the 90s” was a little shaky and dare I day – underwhelming and awkward – as his catchy McGraw cover was paired up with stale and unfitting covers of TLC’s mega-hit Waterfalls and a cringy version of Bell Biv DeVoe’s Poison but thankfully it seemed to be the only hiccup in a night otherwise filled with winners.

Outside of his Country scented set, the glory of the night was awarded to the Hootie highlights. An early performance of Hootie and the Blowfish ballad Let Her Cry won the crowds hearts while fellow mega-hits from the bands vaults – Hold My Hand and Only Wanna Be With You – had the band bouncing around the stage while fans held phones in the air to record the energetic and quick delivered vocals of the latter.

While Rucker might have mastered the Country genre some time back, I would have called last night a country concert. While dipped in the genre, the style of Rucker’s work of late sways more toward Blowfish than banjo with his unmistakable voice that will forever be associated to his 90’s rock work. Overall the show was a fantastic return for the star who’s shine on UK fan’s hearts is far from fading.

Setlist:
Have a Good Time
Beers and Sunshine
For the First Time
Don’t Think I Don’t Think About It
Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover) (with Tyler Booth)
Fires Don’t Start Themselves
It Won’t Be Like This for Long
This
Let Her Cry (Hootie & the Blowfish song)
I Like It, I Love It (Tim McGraw cover)
Waterfalls (TLC cover)
Poison (Bell Biv DeVoe cover)
Come Back Song
History in the Making
True Believers
If I Told You
Radio
Hold My Hand (Hootie & the Blowfish song)
Alright
Only Wanna Be With You (Hootie & the Blowfish song)
Homegrown Honey
Listen to the Music (The Doobie Brothers cover)

Encore:
Valerie (The Zutons cover)
Never Been Over
Champagne Supernova (Oasis cover)
Wagon Wheel (Old Crow Medicine Show cover)