Sam Outlaw at Oslo, London

One of the great things about the increasing popularity of country music in the UK is the sheer variety of acts on offer - everything from pop-country to more rock-influenced acts and all the way to traditional/Americana. The latter took centre stage last night with Sam Outlaw's tour hitting London to promote his second album Tenderheart, and I was invited along by my friend Pip (who is also the editor of the excellent website Entertainment Focus and very kindly lets me write for them sometimes) to see him perform at Oslo in Hackney.

Support came from the UK duo Worry Dolls, who I saw at Country to Country earlier this month and loved (you can read my thoughts on them here). Initially they seemed a little more subdued than their C2C performance, possibly because they weren't quite as chatty to start with, although they did get more relaxed as their set went on. That said, I still really enjoyed their performance, which had a nice mix between sparser, stripped-back songs such as 'I Miss You Already' and 'Endless Road' and the driving, stompy beats and snarky lyrics of 'Train's Leaving', 'Bless Your Heart' and 'Same Damn Song'. And their sweet harmonies and simple melodies shone through as always.

Then it was time for Sam, who came out in a shirt that could rival Charlie Worsham's wardrobe (and I mean that as a compliment to both of them!). He started off with the Spanish-influenced 'Who Do You Think You Are', the lead song from his debut album Angeleno, which showcased the old-school drawl in his voice perfectly and got a great reception from the crowd. Next up was a track from the soon-to-be-released Tenderheart, the slower bittersweet 'Diamond Ring'. This mix of songs from the two records was continued throughout the set and I liked the balance this brought by showcasing the new material as well as the audience favourites.

Sam did a great job of showing off all the different sides to his music, from the uptempo songs like 'Trouble', 'Keep It Interesting' and the driving drums of 'Ghost Town' (arguably his biggest hit to date) to the humour of songs like 'Jesus Take The Wheel (And Drive Me To A Bar)' and 'She's Playing Hard To Get (Rid Of)'. However, I felt he particularly shone in the acoustic section he performed with his band member Molly Jensen. Their voices blended together beautifully on the likes of the subdued 'Look At You Now' and 'Country Love Song' and I didn't want it to end!

The set was rounded off with Sam's take on Dwight Yoakam's 'Guitars, Cadillacs', one of my favourite songs. It suited his voice perfectly and gave each member of the band a chance to shine. He followed that with a version of 'One More Last Chance' by Vince Gill, which finished the entire set on a high note and left the entire audience wanting more.

Overall Sam's show was absolutely fantastic (if over far too quickly!). His soulful, emotional vocals worked brilliantly on so many different styles of songs and the relationship he has with his band members - all of whom are enormously talented in their own right - made the performance even more special. It was a great sneak peek into what's coming up on the new album and definitely showed he's one to watch in the country music scene. He's coming back over to the UK in July so make sure you snap up tickets for that when they go on sale!

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