Kiefer Sutherland + Sound of the Sirens @ o2 Academy

Kiefer SutherlandTo be honest – I can’t think of any occasion where I would think of mentioning Kiefer Sutherland and That Petrol Emotion in the same sentence. There is no obvious alignment there; no connection. But tonight there was. The common denominator was heat. The last time I attended a gig in Brum when it was over 30oc outside and in, was at the predecessor of tonight’s venue in the old Academy when That Petrol Emotion played to an enthusiastic crowd who became slower and distracted the hotter it became.

Kiefer Sutherland

This is what Kiefer Sutherland and his band had to cope with tonight, as if playing to an audience that for the main part seemed to have turned up to see the recipient of Emmys and Golden Globes wasn’t hard enough. You know, – that bloke who was Jack Bauer; that same bloke who was a vampire before vampires were cool, who flat-lined in the original and best version, and who has played anyone from the POTUS to the cheesiest of Musketeers.

Kiefer SutherlandKiefer Sutherland

So how did he do?  Well, as we should have expected, our multi-faceted hero looked the part. He looked like a guy who had turned up to rock.  The rolled up sleeves under the waistcoat, the jeans, the curious flat hat, they all made for an outfit that was like a negative of Wayne Hussey, back when he turned up to rock too.  His compadres in the band all followed suit. There was a distinct 70s rock vibe under way.As it turned out that was entirely understandable. Kiefer Sutherland wears his musical influences right on his tattooed forearms. His source of inspiration was shown in the covers that he and the band played. Tunes by Dylan, Tom Petty, Gordon Lightfoot and even Merle Haggard were rolled out in the set and they did all of them justice. For this guy classic North American rock and country forms the basis of his musical taste and his own material.

Kiefer Sutherland

Earlier his introduction music had hinted at a more contemporary approach — the volume was turned right up and the lights down to the strains of War on Drug’s Under The Pressure. But what we had in the round was more Eagles than Eagulls.

He has a lot of the moves and poses, but it seemed to me that these were spontaneous and genuine during the covers and the heavier rockier tunes. These tunes were also what made the evening enjoyable for me. What detracted from the enjoyment was the odd tune with a country and western flavour such as Truth In Your Eyes, accompanied by the odd sob story of pain and hardship. References to Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash were embellished by more sadness and gloom, even Death Row – “Sad tunes but life into perspective” Now this may go down well stateside but my heavily cynical attitude brought to mind Billy Connolly’s Crippled Grannie spoof. All that was missing was the lonesome whistle.  Everyone has pain and sorrow in their lives but being a Hollywood star probably softens the blow a bit. To me it didn’t hit the spot.

Kiefer Sutherland

Uncharitable as that may be, the vast majority of his own tunes were the rockier tunes with that 70s FM radio feel, where Kiefer Sutherland seemed to let himself go that bit more in front of his band, taking the hot and sweaty crowd along with him. I found myself wondering how many people had heard any of his stuff at all before tonight. He mentioned this himself in thanking the audience. The fact is that he, the band and the tunes were more than good enough to keep people engaged and enthusiastic, and more importantly enjoying the night.

The calls for the encore were full blooded and sincere; no half-hearted clapping and foot stomping here. We had to wait until mid-encore for a story about Mr Sutherland Senior. Being taken to the store and to school in the front of 1966 red Ferrari is not the usual experience for a five year old, and the tale gave a glimpse of how unusual the life of someone in the goldfish bowl of fame must be.

Kiefer Sutherland

I have had the dubious pleasure of experiencing performances in one way or another from other actors who fancied themselves as musicians. What set Kiefer Sutherland apart from Keanu, Johnny and Russell (to name but a few car crashes of the genre) was the musicianship on show, and quality of the self-penned tunes. This is obviously a serious endeavour and not some vanity project or show-boating.

A special mention should be made of Sound of the Sirens. Their PR says “stomping folk rock” but that undersells this duo immensely. They have the harmonies of The Staves and the creativity of The Smoke Fairies. The brief set didn’t really do them justice. After a great opening they fell prey to the heat and became a bit samey as the set went on. I would like to see them again in their own right.

sound of the sirens

As for Kiefer Sutherland: at the end I was thinking about how I would have looked on this band if the lead singer had been some hairy bloke from the Mid-West and not an actor who is, let’s face it, and icon in these times.  If they had been supporting Counting Crows or someone would I have stayed the course or gone to the bar? The jury is still out on that one.

Review: Ian Gelling

Photographs: Stephanie Colledge


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