The Nashville In The Round Tour once again returns after a successful debut last year.
Sarah Darling is still riding high, on what is still our album of the year so far “Dream Country”, her appeal obviously growing, with some of the audience dressed in sparkly eye make up as well as knowingly sporting “little umbrellas” in their hair. Jenn is just about to launch a new album and is itching to get those songs out into the wider world. This years’ tour sees a new member join the team in the shape of Michael Logen, who’ll be known for a number of television credits, and of course writing with UK Country group Dexeter, who changes the dynamics and allows for some additional interaction.
As ever the in the round format gave each a chance to talk about their songs and inspirations, and a large amount of cross pollination took place, with seats and instruments switching throughout the evening. The Old Queen’s Head, a Green Note overspill seemed ideally suited for the event with booths around the side the room and a small section of stools in front of the stage for early birds to settle prior to the show commencing. The room an open space with a large bar and with faded late Victorian advertising,on the walls somehow seemed to create a perfect atmosphere to commence the Mainland part of their UK tour.
Sarah Darling commenced Round One, in sparkly high heels, and a short dress holding her trusty guitar with the heart shaped aperture. Her tribute to the wide open spaces of Wyoming “Where Cowboys Ride” showed her to be in excellent voice, with backing vocals and additional guitar work from Michael this was perhaps truer to the record than the recent C2C appearance, an outstanding start. It never does any harm to drop the “N” word in front of a UK country audience and knowing that Michael had written a song for Nashville, with Maren Morris as co writer immediately allowed the audience to welcome him to their hearts. In the series “Wake Up When It’s Over”, was sung by Gunnar and Scarlet in Season 4 .For this version Michael played a harmonica intro before becoming Sam Palladio, while Sarah Darling initially on backing vocals became Clare Bowen for the second verse. Jenn in a short leather jacket stood behind her keyboard for the song she got to play on Songs Of Praise, “A Little Grace”, really giving it a gospel feel as she approached full throttle about two thirds of the way through.
Round 2 saw Sarah opting for a delicately beautiful Halley’s Comet, while Jenn accompanied on the irresistible piano riff. Michael joked that the tour should be renamed the “Thorn Between Two Roses” tour for “Mystery” which built into a real harmonica, guitar crescendo. If there was to be one teeny tiny disappointment it was that “Jealous Of The Angels” was dispatched quite so early in the proceedings by Jenn. It’s an emotional rollercoaster for both artist and audience and it is nice to have a little time to prepare. Needless to say, once pared with “Amazing Grace” it was a spine tingling moment that made the hairs on your arm bristle.
It was a Jenn and Sarah co write in the shape of “Montmartre” that opened Round Three, once again showcasing Sarah’s vocal on the love affair to the city of Paris. Michael had an intruiging story about staying in a haunted house and channeling the spirits into a song “Human After All” with Jenn Bostic taking the vocals for the second verse, simply stunning. In a change that no-one saw coming, Jenn then moved to centre stage, away from the keyboard and picked up a guitar to deliver a rocking new song, her new singlte “ Wrong Thing”, which sounded fabulous on first listen.
A song about retaining innocence “Starry Eyed” opened up Round Four for Sarah Darling while Michael contributed a song co written and released by Johnny Lang, “What You’re Looking For” while Jenn once again played guitar for a song from her new record that she previewed last year, “Hollywood” which gets the audience a full work out, as it requires, singing, clapping and arm raising!.
Round 5 brought more suprises as Sarah moved to centre stage and was joined on piano by Jess Sharman for a song only completed that very morning called “Northern Lights”. The melody on the line “So many colours I can’t describe” already marked this a song for a future album. Michael took to the piano for “Breaking Your Own Heart” while Jenn returned to the piano and performed another new song “Not For The Faint Of Heart” which really laid out the perils of life as a songwriter and was extremely heartfelt.
The final round came around far too quickly, Sarah closed with “Stargazer”, with a faint organ in the background it once again captured the beauty of the recorded version. Michael got the audience singing the “Hey Hey Hey” line on “Cannonball Embrace” while Jenn got the audience to replace the recorded choir on “What Love Feels Like” bringing to an end the main part of the set.
For the encore, “Nashville In The Round” upped and left the stage and literally went in the round as they fashioned out a gap in the middle of the room to perform a sweet harmonious “Jolene” with each trading verses. They returned to the stage for one final round of trading places that saw Sarah move to piano and Jenn back to guitar for “Me & Bobby McGee” which typified the evening, rip roaring harmonies and glorious singing.
The next time #Team W21 caught up with the tour it in Maidenhead at the Norden Arts Centre in the larger theatre space, which came with a balcony from where #Team W21 had a spectacular view of the star of the night in the shape of a Steinway grand piano.
Sarah and Michael opened with “Where Cowboys Ride” and “Wake Up When It’s Over” respectively while Jenn chose to open with “Change” from her “Jealous” album, a nice jazzy / blues number to give the piano an early workout.
Round two saw Sarah move to “Halley’s Comet” which had its full resonance due to the Steinway providing the key backing riff, while Michael went to “Mystery”. Whereas at the Old Queen Head, Jenn was seen to be on guitar for quite a few numbers, tonight she was not to be moved away from the Steinway and so we got another teasing glimpse of more material from the forthcoming album in the shape of “Lonely” which saw a quite extraordinary vocal performance. If only from the few songs we have heard so far, this is going to be a highly anticipated release.
With no Jess Sharman to call on, Round 3 saw Sarah perform what she calls a “silly little song” that she previewed at Country2Country 2017, in “More Issues Than Vogue”. Performed standing up rather than on her stool this was a five star performance with full audience participation, that “silly little song” might just go a long way!. Round 3 continued in fine form with Michael on “Human After All” and Jenn with “Jealous Of The Angels” as you can imagine sounding simply exquisite on the grand piano.
As noted at the start of the review, the piano was almost a star in its’ own right, and never more so than on “Montmartre” which became positively cinematic. It is a song that was Sarah co wrote with Jenn and it was entirely fitting that Jenn took the vocal lead on the second verse. Michael got full audience participation on “What You’re Looking For”, he prefaced it saying his version was nothing against the recorded version by Johnny Lang – having heard both I’m not convinced he’s right. Finally, Jenn was prised away from the Steinway to give the audience both a vocal and physical work out on “Hollywood”.
The next round started with Sarah on “Starry Eyed”, with Jenn also adding vocals as well, it was a special moment. Michael’s next song was a request for a song of his recorded by Will Hoge, introduced as the saddest song ever, “Goodnight / Goodbye” from his album “The Wreckage” duly delivered. Another new album song from Jenn, “Not For The Faint Of Heart” is sounding better with each playing each line
The final round saw the Sarah’s eye make up perfectly twinkling in the lights as she closed out with “Stargazer” while Michael dropped in another of his co written songs, this one with our very own Paul Carrack, “I Can Hear Ray”, as acoustic version sounded magnificent. The end of the main show came with “What Loves Feel Like / People Get Ready” with Jenn getting full audience participation on backing vocals.
With the seating providing no “In The Round” space for the encore, “Jolene” was performed off mic at the front of the stage. The weather outside was somewhat wet to say the least but everyone left with their own little ray of sunshine from another outstanding show.
After the grand piano of the Norden Arts Centre it was down to standing on a pallet for Jenn Bostic as the Nashville In The Round tour pulled into to London at the Green Note for another sold out show that had the crowd queueing well over an hour before doors opened for the best spots.
Michaels contributions, has just got better and better the more familiar the material has come, whether it be the delivery of “Human After All” or the sadness of “Goodnight/Goodbye”, his presence has provided the thread that has sewn the three acts together perfectly.
Sarah’s slightly shook up the order of her songs opening with “Starry Eyed” in Round 1, while “Where Cowboys Ride”, “More Issues Than Vogue”, “Halley’s Comet”, “Montmartre” and “Stargazer” filled out subsequent rounds.
Jenn started with one of the songs from her forthcoming album “Haunting Me”, while the chorus of “Not Yet” nearly lifted the roof of the venue. If ever there was a moment to reflect of the events earlier in the week in Manchester it was prior to “Jealous Of The Angels / Amazing Grace”, Jenns intro and the performance visibly brought tears to a number of audience members, and the audience participation on “Amazing Grace” never sounded more heartfelt. On her next round, it over to the guitar for the audience work out that is “Hollywood” before returning to the keyboard for the final rounds with “Faint Of Heart” & “What Loves Feel Like / People Get Ready”.
As ever the encore, was to be offstage in the audience and luckily took place literally inches from where #Team W21 were sitting. The sheer beauty of the harmonies on “Jolene” were something special to behold and for those three minutes the character in the song seemed to be living and breathing in front of us. It was back to the stage for the final encore of “Me & Bobby McGhee”, which brought to an end another exceptional night on this quite wondrous tour
Three separate shows, each one with something unique in, each one impeccably performed and each one more like spending an intimate evening with friends. During the Green Note show the question was posed, ”Would you like us to do this again”, the answer most definitely was a resounding “Yes”.
Both Sarah Darling and Jenn Bostic will be at Buckle & Boots and will be returning later in the year for full individual shows – these dates that will be a must see.