For those not attending, the Country Music Week Hub was the second floor of All Bar One, , a slightly odd space with lots of heavily used leather sofas against the walls, and during the day additional temporary seating placed in rows in front of the stage. To the right of the stage is another section containing the bar and to the back of the room some limited standing space. It is the base for the Country Music Week Hub, where stars who are playing at the Indigo can play smaller more intimate sets. Restricted entrance meant that only ticket holders and wristband holders were allowed in and at nearly any point during the day there was always a healthy crowd waiting.
We joined to see the first of many appearances over the weekend of Sarah Darling, who would play in multiple formats, for the Indigo it would be with a full band, while for the Bluebird session it was solo, for the Country Music Week Hub it was a halfway house where she was joined by two guitarists, one of whom was the unmistakable ex Wandering Heart guitarist Tim Prottey-Jones The set would be a mixture of old and new, elements of the new album "Wonderland", mixed with favourites from "Dream Country" topped off with a classic cover.
To open it was "Blue Sky" dreamy in a Tom Petty sort of way with Sarah a blur of expressive arm actions selling every inch of the song. The recent single "Call Me" had additional backing vocals from the gents on guitars, andsounded even better in this acoustic format with Sarah's voice much more to the fore.
For a few songs it was then back to the classics, "Where Cowboys Ride" retains its beauty, made even more special for Sarah with the audience taking over vocal duties for the chorus and while "Halley's Comet" may have missed it's familiar piano line, it did not stop it being simply exquisite. Another new song "Light It Up" saw Tim provide percussion by tapping on his guitar. It has about three or four different hook lines with the "I Love You I Love You I Love You" and "Do You Want To Go Out For The Weekend" refrains being just two. For the new single "Fire" Sarah was almost conducting via hand gestures as she sung..
The final song "When You Say Nothing At All" saw the hub turn info a giant karaoke with the audience allowed to sing a chorus solo. It was a great opening to the weekend for Sarah and a taster for those who will see her on her forthcoming unmissable tour
Sarah Darling March 2019 UK tour
Tue 12 Mar - Glasgow - Oran Mor
Wed 13 Mar - London - Bush Hall
Thu 14 Mar - Norwich - Arts Centre
Sat 16 Mar - Manchester - Deaf Institute
Sun 17 Mar - Liverpool - Leaf
Mon 18 Mar - Bristol - Fleece
Wed 20 Mar - Brighton - Komedia
Thu 21 Mar - Leeds - Brudenell Social Club