Concert Review: Kiefer Sutherland

Concert Review: Kiefer Sutherland

Sutherland proved not only that he is a bona fide musician, but a genuine soul as well.

The cult of celebrity worship is a strange thing, enough for actor Kiefer Sutherland to sell out Portland’s Mississippi Studios on his Not Enough Whiskey 2017 Tour. Best known for playing bad boys in films such as The Lost Boys and Stand by Me in the ‘80s, as well as his role as Jack Bauer on “24,” it is highly likely that less than half the crowd that evening had heard songs from Sutherland’s 2016 album, Down in a Hole before entering the venue. I mean, seeing Kiefer Sutherland up close in a small club? Awesome! However, over the course of a 17-song setlist, Sutherland proved not only that he is a bona fide musician, but a genuine soul as well.

Mixing up songs from Down in a Hole with covers from some of his favorite musicians, Sutherland gave us a tour not only through the music that inspired him, but some of the more personal moments of his life that inform his songwriting. Kicking off the show with “Can’t Stay Away,” Sutherland turned in a set of rollicking, country-tinged rock numbers that hew close to influences such as Tom Petty and Merle Haggard.

The crowd seemed to appreciate Sutherland’s warm stage presence. He took time between most of the songs to explain their roots. For example, he said he wrote “Truth in Your Eyes” about the death of a close friend, adding that it makes him feel good when fans tell him that they can relate to his lyrics. Flanked by a crackerjack band, Sutherland’s songs were brought to life by Michael Gurley on the lead guitar, who stood coolly by with a cowboy hat pulled down over his eyes.

Claiming that this was his first trip to the Portland area since shooting Stand by Me in the late ‘80s, Sutherland looked as if he hasn’t aged a day in 10 years. Aware that he could lose an audience playing only originals, Sutherland mixed up the set with some covers, kicking off with Haggard’s classic track “The Bottle Let Me Down.” The most exciting of the covers was probably the least well-known. Sutherland and Gurley absolutely shredded Petty’s “Honey Bee,” a deep cut from the artist’s Wildflowers album.

The show ran a hair shy of 90 minutes and the three-song encore featured original “Rebel Wind,” a stirring version of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown” and the much-covered “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Before launching into Bob Dylan’s classic song, Sutherland told a story about growing up with his famous father, actor Donald Sutherland, and how he would play that song on repeat on 8-track in his mid-50s Ferrari all the while carting the young Kiefer and his twin sister to pre-school. It was a fitting end to a fun evening, one where we entered knowing only Kiefer Sutherland the actor, but walking away meeting not only Kiefer Sutherland the musician, but also the human being.

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