It’s Friday night in Gateshead, but this isn’t any ordinary start to the weekend. At 11 pm this evening the UK will leave the EU. This being a decision that has dived opinions both regionally and nationally.
US-based singer-songwriter Brandy Clark arrives in the North East on this landmark day, but when she mentions the subject of Brexit the audience are less than enthusiastic. By her own admittance back home in the US, there are also many polarising issues.
As visitors arrive at the venue this evening, they also would notice the Knife Angel standing prominently outside of the building. Illuminated in red, visitors have flocked to the Sage to see the thought-provoking installation. This statue is aimed at raising the awareness of knife crime and is made entirely from weapons confiscated by the police. However, I digress – tonight it’s all about the angelic voice of Brandy Clark.
The US-based country star has spent much of the last year writing and recording her forthcoming album which is set to be released in March. And for much of the second half of the set Clark chooses to road test several tracks from her latest offering. This includes the likes of the slowly burning Love Is A Fire, the heartfelt Pawn Shop, the inspiring Who You Thought I Was and the politically tinged We Are Gonna Need A Bigger Boat.
Clark is not only a gifted musician but also a superb storyteller. Each track in the setlist is backed by enlightening stories and witty banter that keeps the audience entertained throughout.
There is also plenty of room in the set for old favourites from Brandy’s first two albums including a barnstorming rendition of Girl Next Door and Love Can Go To Hell. Whilst a slide fuelled airing of Get High seems appropriate for those who want to get loose or enjoy their beverage of choice at the top of the weekend.
In a similar sense, Mama’s Broken Heart has the crowd clapping along throughout. Obviously the song was penned by Clark and released by country superstar Miranda Lambert. Clark acknowledges that it’s the kind of song that gets frequently covered by bar bands or drunken bachelorettes. The song is so infectious you can’t help yourself but to sing along. But tonight’s performance is a bit special as Brandy performs it entirely solo.
A spellbinding cover of Linda Ronstadt’s Blue Bayou and Buck Owen’s Together Again showcase Clark’s vast musical influences. She jokes that her grandmother used to say that there were two types of music – country and western. And tonight it’s fair to say that both musical styles have been ticked during Clark’s 90 minute setlist.
It’s always difficult to get the crowd on their feet especially in an all-seated venue, but an uplifting performance of Stripes has everyone up and dancing before Brandy leaves the stage to a standing ovation. But we aren’t done quite yet – a two-song encore that concludes with a cover of Carole King’s Will You Love Me Tomorrow closes out the evening proper.
This evening’s concert traverses Clark’s back catalogue as well as drawing from her many different sounds and influences. Based upon the new material presented tonight, Brandy’s third album looks like one to watch out for when it is released in March.