LIVE REVIEW: Sarah Darling @ The Leaf in Liverpool

Last night (March 17th) US Country sensation Sarah Darling brought her Wonderland tour to the city of Liverpool.

The night kicked off with a gorgeous acoustic set from Scouser Laura Oakes who serenaded the Liverpool audience with her gentle vocal tone and beautifully put together tracks.

Standouts from Oakes included the Social Media aimed Glitter and as of yet unreleased Learn to be Lonely. Laura set the tone for what went on to be a fantastic night of live music and with her easy charm and laid back stage presence it’s only a matter of time before the homegrown singer is headlining these kinds of venues.

Up next was Norway born, UK based Country-Pop artist Liv Austen. Having been on my radar for a little while it was great to finally see her live and she didn’t disappoint.

She had brilliant stage presence and was at ease in the spotlight as she performed a selection of her hits off debut album A Moment Of Your Time.

My personal highlights from Liv were her performances of Detour and the very cleverly put together mash up of Go Back To You/Wake Me Up and set closer Window Shopping.

After a short interval it was then time for the main event. Sarah Darling arrived on stage wearing a beautiful green dress in honour of Saint  Patrick’s Day and kicked off her stellar 18 song set with new track Blue Sky lifted off her forthcoming Wonderland album which drops June 7th. 

This was a brilliant opening and set the tone for the rest of the night as Sarah’s voice filled the venue.

Keeping the new material coming, Darling then  launched straight into Call Me which is the LPs lead single. Hand clapping ensued the crowd got into this one and kicked the show into high gear.

London Fog was next up and this Jazz infused ballad is one of the major standouts from the Wonderland record and hearing it live, its even more gorgeous. Darling’s vocals are so light and sweet and they fit so perfectly with this style of song. 

Launching into A Boy Like You the pop undertones shifted the concert onto another level ensuring Darling kept the crowd hooked on her spellbinding vocal tone. 

The beautiful Shine was next which was dedicated to everyone in the room and also to the UK fanbase as a whole for the continuous love Sarah says she feels whenever she visits our shores.

The singer is definitely one of us now and this breathtaking ballad ensued she had the UK crowd rapt with attention.

The set then took a little detour to the Dream Country LP with fan favourite Where Cowboys Ride and the song for all the dreamers Halley’s Comet. Having a shoutout from Sarah for this one was also such a special moment that will stay forever in my heart.

It’s an amazing part of the set and one that showcases the Country stars musical depth and growth.

Returning to a more fast paced track, the sweet songstress performed the insanely catchy Light It Up before allowing her talented band dubbed the Turtle Neck Jones’ a little break as she performed her love story song Montmartre acoustically along with Wasted.

For Montmartre the auditorium was lit up by mobile phones which created a magical array of lights transporting everyone to Paris for 3 minutes.

While Wasted is all about living with someone who has addiction issues and for very personal reasons that Sarah is aware of this has an extremely special place in my heart so having it dedicated to me was an incredibly special moment and one I am so grateful to Sarah for.

It was then time for Timelapse which was penned by the Iowa native back last year while recording her new LP across the UK and is all about trying to live in the moment when everything is happening so fast.

These intimate moments allow the set to breathe and also give new life to the divine, dream like vocal tone Darling possesses.

New single Fire was up next, a song inspired by a Vincent Van Gogh quote about having a fire inside of you. Sarah is one of the most talented lyricists in the world and once again she painted pictures through her music. 

The up tempo Enjoy The Ride then allowed for the Nashville based artist to showcase the Wonderland LP’s fantastic depth of songs which include stripped back ballads, up tempo pop infused hits and everything in between. 

Sarah then decided to cover the iconic You Say It Best When You Say Nothing At All which was a request from a couple in the audience who were from Preston although much to the audiences amusement Darling first thought they were from Shrewsbury.

It’s moments like this that we get a glimpse of the sweet charm Sarah Darling possess and it always makes a show even more fun.

While her cover of this classic is easily the best I’ve heard and always get any crowd singing along in full voice.

The aesthetic Dreams Fade Away came next and this allowed for the fans to have a little sing-a-long much to Sarah’s delight.

Taking the set back to her first major hit with Home To Me, Darling invited support act Liv Austen back on stage for an absolutely incredible duet. This was a wonderful addition to the evening and showcased their incredible harmonies.

The sensational set then came to a close with the gorgeous Talk About The Weather which was a perfect way to end the evening especially as most of the talk amongst the crowd before the gig was how bad the wind and rain has been this week.

Sarah left the stage to deafening cheers and whistles as she thanked the crowd and quickly returned to the spotlight for an encore of the divine A Little Bit Of Rain.

But before she sang, the singer graciously accepted a request asking to sing happy birthday to somebody in the audience, this special moment had been organised up by her friends. This resulted in the entire Leaf crowd singing along with Sarah and her band.

Finishing with A Little Bit Of Rain was the perfect end to a truly magical evening and ensured everyone got to hear her sublime, sweet tone at its best.

Having seen Sarah Darling perform live 7 times across the country, seeing her playing to a packed Leaf venue was truly magical. Her on stage presence and divine vocals make her one of the must see acts of Country Music in the UK and her Wonderland tour is truly spectacular.

The adopted Brit (who now has a full on British accent) had the Liverpool crowd instantly captivated by her transportive, inspiring and healing music and to hear the stories behind the songs also kept the night intimate making it even more special.

There’s no denying that Sarah Darling is one of the best performers on the circuit and after last night it’s safe to say that she keeps getting better and better with every live show.

RATING 5/5

Laura Klonowski

Qualified music journalist! Writing single/album/live reviews, feature articles, interviews, and news pieces. Portfolio: lauraklonowski.com Twitter: @cherylssoldier1 Instagram: @musicandtournews Email: [email protected]

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