Support for the evening came from Kiol, an Italian acoustic artist who has opened for such acts as Natalie Imbruglia. He has more of a pop leaning, but I can see how he would appeal to those who like a more mainstream pop country sound.
Sarah Darling first came to my attention when she opened for The Shires in Sage 1 at last year's SummerTyne Americana Festival here at Sage Gateshead. I was beyond excited to see her headline her own show and I suspect I was not alone.
Sarah made several references to being delighted to be back in this venue, more than once looking around the room, taking it all in. Later she tweeted that we had made magic in her skies and she had fallen in love with the North East. Without a doubt the feeling was reciprocated. We were treated to an absolutely magical night of music from one of the most incredible voices I have ever had the privilege of hearing in Sage 2.
Backed by a talented band (although I and others concurred we would have preferred no drums), a very down to earth Sarah regaled us with stories (I won't share as I don't want to spoil them for those who haven't yet seen her live), as she took us through her amazing catalogue of songs. more than once we were asked to sing along, deliver harmonies and clap; her audience was happy to oblige. It appeared she connected effortlessly with the four hundred plus crowd.
From her current release, Dream Country, I was moved to tears by such gorgeous songs as When Cowboys Ride and Montmartre ( which took me back in my mind at least to Wyoming and Paris: two places I love.) Both songs showcase perfectly her ability to paint a picture with words. The latter I fee is the verbal equivalent of an Impressionist painting of Paris.
Her current single, Wasted, a real country story song, inspired by real life, made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Something about it reminded me of Whiskey Lullaby; achingly beautiful. We learned which songs she wrote with Brandy Clark and Jenn Bostic among other familiar names.
Other highlights included Starry Eyes, Home to Me and Anchor. She showed her talents at interpreting others' songs with her versions of Yellow and Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.
A couple of songs gave us a sneak peek of the new album, which I now cannot wait to hear! They Not only have a great sound, but meaningful lyrics.
All too soon, the set drew to a close with Halley's Comet, her story in three and half minutes as she calls it. As the final notes rang out, everyone in the room got to their feet in a much deserved standing ovation.
Returning to the stage, Sarah gave us two more; the upbeat, Little Big Town like Little Umbrellas before bringing it back down to end on Stargazer; a perfect choice to end the night.
True to her word, she came out to the merchandise table afterwards and spent time chatting to everyone who wished to say hi; it was clear that what you See is what you get with her and everyone was happy to hear she intends to be back soon. The comments on her Twitter, later, suggested she had every bit as magical a night as we did. I guess we will all have starry eyes awaiting her return date. Thanks Sarah, for a wonderful night.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
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