There’s simply no denying what is becoming an irresistible force, the resurgence of country music in the UK. And after recent months have seen US big hitters Kacey Musgraves and Little Big Town putting on sensational gigs, the latest emerging talent, Lindsay Ell, descended on Manchester to perform at the Ruby Lounge, performing in Manchester as part of her debut UK tour in between Country 2 Country duties.
The rising country music star arrived on her first UK tour after a massive 2014, which found her opening for The Band Perry on their huge We Are Pioneers World Tour, being nominated as a Rising Star at the Canadian Country Music Association awards and being tipped as an artist to watch by Rolling Stone and Billboard. Watching her perform, it becomes easy to see why she has been so highly tipped – justifiably so.
Opening the evening is UK artist Sasha McVeigh, who was last in Manchester performing at Night and Day back in September. Opening with the excellent track No Strings, it is immediately clear to the audience that Sasha McVeigh has an extremely strong, beautiful voice. Accompanied solely by her guitar she proceeds to perform a stunning set, including a delicate and striking cover of Dolly Parton’s Jolene. With her infectious enthusiasm shining through, she shares the stories of her songs, their meanings and inspirations and when it comes to Stupid Girl she tells of hearing it on the radio – it is a song which has been selected as Best of the Best by BBC Introducing and deservedly so.
The audience enjoys what they have heard and at the end of the set a queue forms to buy copies of her debut EP – it’s a pattern which follows that of her previous shows which had seen the physical CD sell out. With the recording of her debut album under her belt, Sasha McVeigh is set to release the long player in April and will also be returning to Manchester to perform at The Roadhouse on 15th April alongside American singer/songwriter Sonia Leigh. Before that, however, comes an appearance at Country 2 Country in London, where, no doubt, many further fans will fall under her spell.
After a brief break, up steps Lindsay Ell for what is set to be a masterclass in guitar and country. Launching into first track Ready To Love Somebody, she immediately shows her immense delight at being on stage. Clearly enjoying every moment of the performance, she demonstrates what has been apparent to many country fans for a while, that her artistry with the guitar cannot be ignored. With a brand of country which veers slightly more towards rock, she delivers outstanding riffs, and quickly has the crowd believing that she could easily hold her own with any guitarist around today. And her vocal ability should not be underestimated either as she delivers track after track of excellent vocals, filled with energy, soul and confidence.
Switching things around for a little while, she moves to her acoustic guitar part way through the set to perform three solo tracks including the excellent Criminal, Landslide and Not Another Me before her two fellow musicians (who easily rank as a couple of the coolest musicians we’ve seen in a while) return to the stage for Slow Dancing In A Burning Room, into which she delicately and beautifully weaves a rendition of Ain’t No Sunshine, delivered stunningly.
Lindsay Ell is clearly loving every moment of the gig, happily performing and showing her outstanding talent to her fans. She even takes a moment to mention two fans at the front who have seen her perform several times in the UK on this tour, noting the special choreography they they have brought to her songs, which she imitates on stage as she performs.
Finishing off with Trippin’ On Us, her set and excellent performance has more than satisfied the crowd, showing what an immense talent the Canadian country singer is and why she has widely, and correctly, been tipped as an artist to watch. It’s been a bit country, it’s been a bit rock’n’roll, it’s been excellent. And what’s more, hanging around after the show, she happily signs autographs, takes time to chat and poses for pictures with fans, maintaining a massive and genuine smile throughout, clearly loving what she does.
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