Kiefer Sutherland – World Café Live at The Queen – Wilmington, Delaware – May 11, 2016
Onstage, actor Kiefer Sutherland – best known for the TV series 24, but who has also done many movies over the years including Stand By Me, The Lost Boys, A Few Good Men and Mirrors – good-naturedly acknowledged that he had taken on a different business model for his first cross-country jaunt as a singer and bandleader.
“We’re kind of doing this backwards,” Sutherland said from the stage of World Café Live at the Queen in Wilmington, DE. “It’s not very bright to tour for a record that doesn’t come out until the end of the tour. But this was the time that I had.”
It is particularly risky since that record is Sutherland’s musical debut. Down in a Hole, which Sutherland recorded with his band and 90s hit maker Jude Cole, will be coming out in the mid summer. And, unlike many other actors who have side-projects in music, Sutherland has pretty much kept his musical aspirations on the down low over the years.
Therefore, most people did not know exactly what to expect from a Kiefer Sutherland concert. Jack Bauer sings his favorite Italian love songs? Speed metal memories with a Lost Boy? Polka time party? The possibilities were endless.
Not that it mattered much to the crowd at World Café Live at the Queen, which was sold out mostly on Sutherland’s name recognition. And pretty much every single one of the people who took a leap of faith came out of the show impressed by Sutherland’s musical gifts.
In fairness, he was not completely a musical mystery. Sutherland had previewed the album with a single and a music video, an alt-country weeper called “Not Enough Whiskey,” which previewed Sutherland’s rich, traditional instrumentation and gruff, raspy vocal style.
In fact, as Sutherland joked from stage, “I was shocked how many songs I’ve done about drinking.” You know what they say, write what you know. Some of these whiskey laments played included the good-natured closing time romp “Going Home” and the album’s title track.
Other interesting originals included the melancholy breakup song “Calling Out Your Name” and the ominous shoe gaze ballad “All She Wrote.” Sutherland also has a way with the story song – he attributed that to a kinship to Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard – which he showed off in the heartbreaking prison tune “Shirley Joan” and “Gonna Die,” a song which Sutherland wrote after meeting up with an Iraq war veteran who had been given the wrong meds at the VA and was desperate for help.
Sutherland acknowledged on stage that it wasn’t fair to expect the audience to listen to a whole night’s worth of songs they never had heard before, so he would be doing a few covers as well, so the audience could sing along with some songs they actually knew. These four covers showed a shrewd taste and also fit in perfectly with the vibe of Sutherland’s work.
The first one came about halfway through the show. Sutherland called from the stage “We’re gonna pick up the pace a little” and launched into the distinctive rock guitar line of the great, almost forgotten mid-80s alt-country hit “Ways To Be Wicked” by Lone Justice. (The song was written for the band by Tom Petty and Mike Campbell.) While Sutherland’s vocals could not quite keep up with the fiery cadence of Lone Justice’s lead singer Maria McKee (whose could?), he did a fine, workman-like job of pounding it out. A couple of songs later, Sutherland and his band did a bright and fun version of another Tom Petty song, the more obscure Wildflowers album track “Honey Bee.”
Sutherland also pointed out that growing up in Canada – he lived there during much of his childhood – it was mandated that you had to listen to two artists – Rush and Gordon Lightfoot. Then he played a slightly roughed-up version of folk troubadour Lightfoot’s drop-dead gorgeous ballad “Sundown.” (Fun but useless trivia fact: “Sundown” was written in the early 70s about Lightfoot’s then-girlfriend Cathy Smith, who about a decade later found a very different kind of infamy for injecting comedian John Belushi with a fatal overdose of heroin and cocaine.)
Sutherland closed out with a sturdy version of Bob Dylan’s classic “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.” This song was a musical choice that he attributed to his actor father Donald, who introduced Kiefer to Dylan’s music when he was only five years old.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2016 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 15, 2016.
Photos by Jim Rinaldi © 2016