“As American as apple pie” is how Leavers’ music journalist describes last night’s ‘poppy country music’ Sarah Darling gig

The phrase “As American as apple pie,” has seldom been more applicable than it is to Sarah Darling and her poppy country music.
Originally emerging from reality TV in the US, Darling has since covered a number of legendary songs such as The Beatles’ “Blackbird”, U2’s “With or Without You” and The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” and has released five albums of her own material including the recently released Wonderland.

Before her tours made their way over to Europe, Darling had regularly been on the road in the US and lead to her going through every country singer’s rite of passage – playing the Grand Ole Opry (the one in Nashville, not the one near Ibrox).
Having performed at C2C: Country to Country festival for the past four years, Darling has been this side of the Atlantic before, and was keen to please the fans in the crowd who had seen her on her previous jaunts over to the UK. She dedicated “Diamonds” to those fans, offering an assurance to any fragile audience members that, “Time and pressure make diamonds.”

What was peculiar about the gig was that, for any band, never mind a country singer’s backing band, polo necks and blazers is an odd choice of attire. With the Apple logo gleaming from a MacBook at the front of the stage next to the keyboard player, it looked a bit like a Steve Jobs tribute bands at times.

For a spell, the Steve Jobs troupe disappeared and left Darling to play some more stripped-down material including the soft and characteristically twee “Wasted”.
While being entirely pleasant, there was some bite lacking throughout the night. When Darling invited members of the crowd to get up and dance, no one really took up the invite. It can be tough for soft acts to change gear and suddenly try and ignite some energy in the room.

The pristineness of Darling has probably helped her achieve the success that she has, but sometimes something a little rougher or scruffier is what is required to pique interest.

review by Luke Hawkins