LIVE REVIEW: Sarah Darling Shines at The Union Chapel – London

Adopted Brit Sarah Darling brought down the curtain down on her run of live shows this year with a truly spectacular showcase at the stunning Union Chapel venue in London. The Iowa native brought together a selection of her closest British artist friends in the industry for a night of Opry style magic in the UK.

Sarah kicked off the evening with a select number of her original hits including the likes of ‘Call Me’, ‘Where Cowboys Ride’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Shine’. The opening segment was a chance for fans in the packed room to revel in her biggest hits off breakout LP ‘Dream Country’ and this year’s UK Country number 1 ‘Wonderland’.

Her voice was crystal clear in the room and was accompanied beautifully by her band Chris Smith, Sam Sharawi, Sean Rumsey, and Andy Wilder. The down-to-earth performer also took time to chat between songs and made sure to thank the British audience for always making her feel welcome, and how she always goes home to Nashville with her heart full of love. It was a poignant start to the evening and one that showcased her immense popularity across the nation.

It was then time for the first guest of the evening; Jamie Lawson. Darling supported Lawson across Europe during his tour this year and he was quick to thank her for returning the favour. During his time on stage, he wowed with a stunning acoustic set of ‘I Wasn’t Expecting That’, and ‘Hallelujah’.

As Jamie left the stage to huge cheers, Sarah arrived back to the spotlight to welcome her “Americana Dream” The Wandering Hearts. The trio delighted with a stripped-back rendition of ‘Burning Bridges’ and a classic Christmas cover before being joined by the star of the night Sarah Darling for a magical rendition of ‘The Christmas Song’ Hearing their four-part harmonies was absolutely magical.

It was then time to hear a number of brand new, unreleased tracks from Sarah, which were simply divine. ‘Hungover’ may be familiar to anyone who follows the Nashville based artist on social media as she has shared a snippet previously, but to hear it in live and in full was something truly special. The lyrics will strike a chord with anyone going through a break-up and, her vocals were just mesmerising.

‘Waves’ also got another play after she premiered it during her German tour dates back in October, and once again the captivating song – which is Sarah Darling’s new favourite – had the listening audience in awe. ‘Drive Away With You’ followed, a song which was first debuted back in September during the British Country Music Festival in Blackpool. This is a more up-tempo pop stylistic offering and will no doubt become a festival staple in the coming years.

Rounding out the first half before a short interval was the divine cover of The Wreckers’ ‘Leave The Pieces’ which is lifted off the ‘Campfire Sessions’ project – lots of new music is promised over the next twelve months. Sarah spoke about how this song was influential to her career and her version last night was nothing short of incredible.

After a short break, our adopted Brit was joined on stage by our very own Ward Thomas. The Hampshire twins have played a pivotal role in Sarah’s UK success as back in 2016 they invited her to be their opening act on a select number of dates for their headline tour. This is something Darling has never forgotten and has become fast friends with Catherine and Lizzy.

The three girls performed the Dixie Chicks’ version of ‘Landslide’ and the heartbreakingly beautiful Joni Mitchell classic ‘River’, before being joined on stage by co-writer Jessica Sharman for a breathtaking rendition of their new collaboration ‘Divide’, Hearing it performed so intimately with gorgeous strings from Teodora and Lydia was truly magical.

Hearing Ward Thomas and Sarah Darling live together is something spectacular, there was a magic in that room when they performed their three-part harmonies.

After Ward Thomas exited the stage to deafening cheers and whistles from the adoring London crowd it was time for some Christmas cheer with Darling performing a selection of classics off her festive covers LP ‘Winter Wonderland’. They included ‘Santa Baby’ and a totally new take on ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ – completely stripped back with the added lushness of live strings made for a heart-melting performance that will live long in the memory.

Our favourite American was then re-joined by the uber-talented Jessica Sharman for a spectacular duet of ‘Winter Wonderland’ which had everyone singing along. ‘London Fog’ off ‘Wonderland’ was then performed solo by Sarah, a perfect soundtrack to an evening of musical inspiration in the city of London.

The night had an air of Christmas magic and Sarah Darling captured the mood perfectly with her spine-tingling version of ‘Silent Night’, The London crowd were captivated by her velvet vocals and as she stepped off the mic to perform the chorus completely unplugged. You could have heard a pin drop as everyone revelled in her spectacular vocal control and delivery. Sarah is a special talent and her God-given voice was even more mesmerising in the working church of the Union Chapel. It was such a perfect way to close out the show and resulted in a richly deserved standing ovation for the American who has made Britain her second home.

After stomping, cheering and clapping, Sarah Darling returned to the stage for a two-song encore after composing herself due to being moved to tears by the overwhelming crowd support throughout the night and of her off the mic performance of  ‘Silent Night’. ‘Montmarte’ and ‘Halleys Comet’ brought the magical evening to a close with the charming “Brit” bowing to the adoring crowd who were once again on their feet.

Overall, Sarah Darling brought a new style of concert to Britain for one night as she delivered a little slice of the Grand Ole Opry magic to London. If anyone was ever in any doubt of how much love and support the US sensation has in our country then last night blew it out the water. It was a captivating and mesmerising evening of true musical magic that will go down as one of the greatest country concerts of all time and was the perfect way to celebrate and commemorate her incredible success across the UK over the course of the past five years.

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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