The Shires, The Anvil, Basingstoke

Cowboy hats and chequered shirts peppered the audience. Nine-year-olds wearing boots and flowing dresses were accompanied by embarrassing dads, ready to bust out their best moves. You wouldn't be mistaken for thinking you were in Tennessee. The reality though was far from it. The Shires were ready to end their biggest UK tour to date in a humble Hampshire town.

Who would have thought that two 'failed' X-factor contestants would be responsible for a huge popularity resurgence of country music, helping make a new generation of brits fall in love with the genre for reasons other than Taylor Swift.

But that's exactly what Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes have done. The duo have bought the honest influences of Nashville back to their home land, and it seems this is just what audiences have been waiting for.

Strutting onto the stage in high-heeled gold sequined boots, Crissie's pitch perfect vocals harmonised perfectly with songwriter Ben’s dreamy melodies.

Supported by a talented four piece band, songs such as Guilty and Echo got the crowd up on their feet and dancing.

Slower paced numbers were an opportunity for the pair to really strip back, with just a piano for accompaniment. The Romantic tale Sleepwalk was a magical moment as the audience illuminated the theatre with their phone lights, a night sky full of twinkling stars.

Singing Daddy’s Little Girl, a song about her dad who died of cancer when she was just eight, Crissie showed huge bravery in a heartbreakingly raw moment.

The title track from the pairs third album, Accidentally On Purpose tells the anecdote of Crissie's Nashville romance, which like most of us can probably relate to, didn't quite finish with a fairytale ending, but at least it provides a story for the duo to share on stage with their fans.

For what was a long set, The Shires entertained from start to finish. Their authentically loveable personas matched with talented songwriting, singing and an upbeat country flair, is a recipe that clearly works. Selling out shows up and down the country seems to be second nature for the duo now, and after a successful performance at The Royal Albert Hall, a song written by Ed Sheeran gracing their album and a slot supporting Shania Twain on her upcoming UK tour, there's no doubt that country is back and here to stay.

By Rebecca Rayner