Kiefer Sutherland is keen for us to know that he’s a storyteller. Yes, that Kiefer Sutherland. Jack Bauer from 24. Ace in Stand By Me. David in The Lost Boys! Anyway, in case you missed it, he’s now a country musician and is currently touring his second album, Reckless & Me, following on from 2016’s Down In A Hole.
Read anything, literally anything, about Kiefer Sutherland, and I guarantee the word ‘storytelling’ will be liberally applied. It is how he chooses which roles to take on. It is what draws him to inhabit particular characters. It is also the thing he loves the most about songwriting, and the crux of his live performance: stories about songs, and songs that are stories.
A lifelong love of country music and having co-founded an independent record label and studio, Ironworks, in 2003, recording and releasing his own music was somewhat inevitable. Initially reluctant to attract the derision accorded those that stomp the well-trodden path from actor to musician (or vice-versa), Sutherland eventually decided “fuck it” his first album was released in 2016, and he’s played hundreds of shows alongside his band in the years since.
Taking to the stage resplendent in a wide-brimmed white hat, patterned shirt and bejewelled guitar strap, Sutherland looks both the stereotypical country singer and ecstatic to be here, and the crowd that greeted him with rapturous applause seem just as thrilled. Accompanied by a four-piece band and peddling a middle-of-the-road Americana country sound, what stood out to me the most about Sutherland’s time on stage is his joy. He really, really loves singing his songs and engaging with his fans, and that delight carried the audience willingly through a mostly underwhelming set.
The set had its better moments, notably performances of gentle tracks Saskatchewan (about his mum, when he thought she had died) and I’ll Do Anything (a love song inspired by, erm, Bridget Jones) and a raucous cover of Patty Loveless’s Blame It On Your Heart, which gave multi-instrumentalist Phil Parlapiano (accordion, organ, piano and mandolin) an opportunity to showcase his craft.
Throughout, Sutherland was incredibly sweet and self-effacing and the musicianship was solid – it just wasn’t very interesting or exciting, a bit like eating plain boiled rice. Most disappointingly, for a self-proclaimed storyteller, the stories (of which there are many) all sounded like he’s telling them for the hundredth time. Which of course he is, but the trick – as Jack Bauer knows – is to make us believe what we want to believe; that these are special stories, just for us.