US Country Singer Songwriter Sarah Darling has become somewhat of a favourite amongst British Country fans who consistently turn out in their droves to see her perform up and down the Country. She is one of those artists along with the likes of Jenn Bostic and Sonia Leigh who make the effort to come over to the UK multiple times a year to entertain their fans at gigs and festivals but this was actually Sarah’s first headline tour of the UK! I went along to her Manchester date at the Night and Day Cafe where Gary Quinn and Emma Stevens were opening the show.
Gary Quinn took to the stage first. The Irish born Country singer who now resides in Manchester is nothing if not hard working. I’ve seen him on a number of occasions opening up for artists around Manchester including Jess and the Bandits quite recently. The two support acts only had around 15 minutes but Gary made the most of his slot by playing a mixture of fan favourites which many of the crowd were singing along to and a few newer songs like a slower, ballad he recently wrote with Jenn Bostic and Warm Dark of Night. He played through his set, chatting to the crowd and with a big smile on his face which is always great to see.
Emma Stevens was up next, I’ve never seen her perform before but I was very impressed. She has a really beautiful voice, it’s quite soft and she really conveyed the emotion of each song. Her stage presence was endearing the way she talked to the audience and told the stories behind each song. I really enjoyed her songs especially Sunflower which had a really emotional story behind it about her mum who Emma sadly lost to cancer. She also talked about the late great Terry Wogan and played a cover on her Ukulele that she’d played on his show, I Can’t Help Falling in Love. She remained very professional throughout her set which was a bit of a tough task as the Drum screen fell and only narrowly missed Emma as she came to the end of one of her songs.
Then it was time for Sarah Darling’s set. She took to the stage in a sparkly black sequin dress. Her British band, tight as always, ramping up the energy in the room. One of the first songs she played was Tell That Devil which is a Jill Andrews cover that’s on her Dream Country record. I love Sarah’s version though, it really suits her strong powerful vocals. My favourite song, Where Cowboys Ride followed. Throughout the evening Sarah’s vocals were flawless. She seemed genuinely excited to be here and kept commenting on how great the crowd were. She then talked about another cover that’s on her Dream Country album Please, Please, Please Let Me which is a Smith’s song and of course this was significant as they are from Manchester. Sarah has a way of making every cover she does her own and this song was no different.
Another one of my favourite songs of Sarah’s and a song I’ve heard a few times on Chris Country is Starry Eyes, this has a lovely chorus melody. Throughout the night she showcased some new songs including one she’d written with Jessica Sharman who writes a lot for Ward Thomas, she came out of this song into a cover version of Yellow. Then she told us about her new single Wasted and how she’s been sitting on the song for around ten years and told us the story behind the song. One of the highlights of the night for me was hearing The Boy Never Stays, I love this song which Sarah co-wrote with one of my favourite writers Brandy Clark and I particularly love this song when she performs it live. In fact in general she is fantastic live, everything from her flawless vocal performance, to her stage presence and the way she addresses the audience. It was an all round great night and I’m really loving all the new songs she performed so can’t wait to hear the new album which she teased could be out before the end of the year!