The (Nashville) show must go on in Manchester

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Nashville stars Charles Esten and Jonathan Jackson have spoken of their determination to bring the hit TV show’s live tour to Manchester, despite recent tragic events at the arena.

Organisers were forced to move the original show at Manchester Arena, following the devastating terror attack which killed 22 people. The date is now split across two shows at Manchester Apollo on June 17.

Esten, who plays singer-songwriter Deacon Claybourne in the show, said it was ‘never a consideration’ to drop the Manchester show. It only made them want to play to the city more.

“We were devastated when we first heard,” he said. “We were horrified that such joy could be attacked in that way with such cruelty and senselessness. But it was never a consideration for me or by anyone else to not come to Manchester.

“It is a terrifying reality of where we are but it doesn’t seem right to abandon a city that’s faced such a horrific episode. I have such respect for people who were there that night and are still refusing to live in fear.

“We know we don’t have magical healing powers for such a tragedy but music itself can help and I know fans of country music and our show would feel it.”

nashville
The Nashville cast

Charles Esten during Nashville in Concert in Manchester (Photo: Denise Evans)
Esten’s co-star Jackson, who portrays musician and producer Avery Barkley in Nashville, now in its fifth season, echoed the sentiment.

He said: “We were heartbroken when we heard. We really wanted to be there for this tour. It was very powerful to see everyone come together for One Love Manchester.

“We are feeding off Manchester’s defiance and we’re grateful to be able to come and share a beautiful night of music.”

Jackson and Esten will be joined by cast-mates Clare Bowen and Chris Carmack for the live gig, which will be a fusion of their self-penned songs and those they have written for or performed on the TV show.

Jackson, who starred in American serial drama General Hospital as a youngster, and, like Esten relocated to Nashville for filming with his family, promises some surprises for fans.

Clare Bowen
Clare Bowen performs at the Bridgewater Hall during the tour’s last visit to Manchester (credit Denise Evans)

He explains: “I’ve been playing music since I was really young and I have been an actor since I was 11. It’s amazing to have the music meet up with the acting.

“We get to go out there and give the audience a broader sense of who we are as artists. Chris Carmack is a phenomenal blues guitarist.”

The 35-year-old also reveals fans, or ‘Nashies’ as they are affectionately known, should prepare for some rock n’ roll from Esten.

“Charles goes huge in the live shows – more Springsteen, and you don’t see that as much on the show from Deacon.”

The cast are clearly a tight group when the cameras stop rolling, too, with both actors referring to their cast-mates as ‘family’.

REVIEW: Nashville in Concert at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

And it’s the power of the fans they have to thank for keeping them together.

The original ABC show had been cancelled at the end of season four on a cliff-hanger storyline, but it was thrown a lifeline by CMT following an online campaign, who picked it up for a further two series.

“It was a little bit surreal to see it cancelled but we all knew it couldn’t be the end,” said Jackson.

“Then all the fans went online and the network picked it up – we were saved and the fans played a big part in it. We’re so lucky to shoot this show and then when it’s done we get to go out and have parties with the fans.”

Esten added: “I never felt like we were finished. “This job is a bunch of dreams come true at once. We had more stories to tell, more songs to sing. Nobody in the cast had sold their house, let’s put it that way.”

You can see the cast of Nashville perform live on Saturday, June 17, with limited tickets available for the matinee show at Manchester Apollo.

This article originally appeared in the Manchester Evening News

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