Ben Earle of The Shires plays Glastonbury hours after becoming a father

A headline set at Glastonbury is the highlight of most musicians' lives - except when it competes with the day your first child is born.

Country duo The Shires were thrown into panic ahead of tonight's set on the Acoustic Stage when band member Ben Earle's fiancee gave birth at 1.30am. Crissie Rhodes, the other half of the duo, arrived alone at the venue, with her fingers crossed that Ben would make it on time.

She said: "His fiancee gave birth this morning, of all mornings! We were scared because we've got Glastonbury tonight and we were hoping the baby would come before or at least after and just not on Glastonbury. But this morning, baby River, a little boy, was born."

Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle of the Shires (Matt Crossick/PA on behalf of SO TV)
Crissie Rhodes and Ben Earle of the Shires (Matt Crossick/PA on behalf of SO TV)

Ben, who said he has already been awake for 48 hours, shared the first pictures of his son River on Instagram, writing: "Broke my heart to leave them this afternoon, but very excited to play Glastonbury this evening. Going to be an emotional one."

The pair, who became the first UK country act to make it into the Top 10 album charts, first played the festival last year but this time are returning in the prime headline slot - which unfortunately clashes with Adele's much-hyped Glastonbury debut.

Crissie, 28, confessed that they had fleetingly wondered whether they could be playing to an empty stage, with her own brother and sister joking they would be watching the Hello singer on the Pyramid Stage instead.

Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes of The Shires (David Parry/PA)
Ben Earle and Crissie Rhodes of The Shires (David Parry/PA)

She admitted: "We were worried, we've no idea how many people will turn up. There must be people that think, 'I won't get to the front of Adele and don't want to be stood at the back', so maybe as we're the closest tent to Adele at the Pyramid Stage, hopefully our music will flood out there and we'll be able to catch a few people? Honestly, we have no idea."

Those who do attend are being rewarded with the first play of a "sneaky new song" from their upcoming second album, due out this autumn.

It has been a bumpy ride to the top for Crissie, who crashed out of The X Factor in the boot camp stage in 2013 when Nicole Scherzinger chose not to keep her.

 The Shires (Joe Giddens/PA)
The Shires (Joe Giddens/PA)

Crissie said she had "no idea" that Nicole was back on the panel for the new series alongside veterans Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Sharon Osbourne, but she spoke of her relief at not having made it to fame on the show.

"They let me go at the right time because that's when I met Ben. It felt like fate that everything fell into place at the same time, because then potentially I wouldn't be here headlining the Acoustic Stage at Glastonbury with Ben. It's all for the best," she said.

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