With Ags Connolly still suffering from the sore throat that was affecting him at Midwinterfest 2019, it meant for a complete revamp of the evening's events. Freely mingling with the audience pre show there was a mixture from Darren of frustration at the time it has taken to get the third Southern Companion record "Shine A Little Light" out but also excitement that finally these tunes will get to be heard by a wider audience.
First off though to get us in the mood it was a visit to the previous album for "Feels Like Years" and "The Leaving Kind" both showing him to be in fine voice and if there is ever a place for this kind of solo show it is the Green Note in front of a closely attentive audience. The first of the new songs "Can I Get A Witness" is a classic soul sounding song title and indeed it does have something of a soulful country feel about it tonight. On the forthcoming record it is a beautiful piano led ballad but tonight it possibly felt even more emotional for being stripped back to the bare bones.
"The Great American Mistake" written by band member Simon Johnson and ex Christian band member Henry Priestman continued that soulful feel to the evening, while for "Few Too Many Hours" there was possibly a touch of the Chris Stapletons in a song that deliberately leaves itself open to a number of interpretations. The new songs kept on coming "Billy's Brother" which has featured in many Southern Companion shows over the last year or so in this environment revealed itself as an almost cinematic rock n roll tune, the likes that Mr Springsteen likes to turn out. There was a return to the first album for "Drive" and it seemed that Darren almost had the look of a man calmness and contentment that comes with knowing that you have a great album in the can.
More new songs were to follow in a nicely blended set, "Already Gone" detailed the the ups and downs of a musician which showed how career highs can come at the expense of having to sacrificing parts of your personal life. Nothing comes more personal than writing about your little girl and the recent number one single "Songbird" sounded truly heartfelt tonight. One final song was the traditional Southern Companion rocker "Crash" which retained its power even when being thrashed out on an acoustic guitar, brought things to a close. It took 2 years for people to realise how good Darren's last album was, let's hope this one gets appreciated sooner
Please see below for where you can see the full Southern Companion supported by a host of other UK Country artists including Lisa Wright, Laura Oakes, Danny McMahon, Katy Hurt and many many more on what promises to be a quite special tour.