LIVE REVIEW: Laura Oakes and Sarah Darling @ The British Country Music Festival

Last night (Friday, September 13th) the inaugural The British Country Music Festival arrived in Blackpool for a celebration of the finest artists the growing UK scene has to offer.

Hosted by Country Hits Radio presenter Matt Spracklen and featuring an array of glittering talent the three-day event will allow festival goers the chance to see all their favourite artists up close and personal.

I was lucky enough to catch Laura Oakes and headliner Sarah Darling last night as TBCMF kicked off in style.

Scouser Laura had the crowd cheering and singing along as she performed hits such as Nashville Stole Your Girl, and Blue Jeans before giving the crowd a unique cover of Groove Is In the Heart, showcasing that any song can be turned “Country” with the right production and vocals.

Oakes is a shining light of the burgeoning British scene and last night she gave her best performance to date, it won’t be long until the Liverpool artist is headlining festivals of this calibre.

After a short interval it was time for the very first TBCMF headliner: Sarah Darling. The American sensation cemented her status as an adopted Brit as she is the only non British artist headlining the event which will see Ward Thomas and Catherine McGrath headline on Saturday and Sunday respectively.

Darling oozed charm and grace as she kicked off her incredible set with the funky Blue Sky before belting out a number of hits off her Number 1 UK Country Album ‘Wonderland’ such as ‘Call Me’, ‘Light It Up’, and ‘Shine’.

This singer/songwriter also slowed things down with a select number of ballads that shone a light on her liquid gold vocals. These included the inspirational ‘Fire’ and the heartbreakingly beautiful ‘Dreams Fade Away’.

Along with wowing the adoring crowd with her honey-toned vocals, Sarah Darling also took time to interact and tell stories about her her British husband and how she has now seen more of England than he has because of her constant touring over here.

The sweet songstress also joked about her Mid-atlantic cross accent and how when she goes back home to Nashville her friends always say she now sounds British.

Along with enchanting the Blackpool audience with her best known hits which included her very first radio release ‘Home To Me’, the Iowa native also gave the crowd two new songs.

The stunning ‘Divide’ which was written at the top of a mountain in Nashville and is about people coming into your life for a reason. This one was performed at Nashville Meets London in July but has had a little makeover with Darling adding a new verse.

Sarah also delighted the crowd thanks to the premiere of the outstanding new song ‘Drive Away With You’. This has the potential to become a huge radio hit thanks to its catchy lyrics and relatable story of just wanting to escape everything with your loved one.

But it wasn’t just her own songs that Darling delighted the crowd with, as she also belted out a rousing rendition of the classic Country Roads which had the entire Ballroom in full voice.

Sarah is an extremely special talent who the UK audiences have well and truly taken to their hearts and last night she officially became a true Brit.

RATING 5/5

Were you at TBCMF last night? Let us know your highlights over on Twitter @BellesandGals

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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