It may have helped that unlike on a previous occasion, she was largely preaching to a converted congregation. Tuning into Angaleena’s wavelength was entirely accessible as she set about proving that song-writing riches are aplenty far from the confines of Music Row. This is an artist who personifies the country cliché ‘three chords and the truth’ in her songs, to the extent of including the line in ‘Dreams Don’t Come True’. Angaleena also positions herself at the heart of a virtual movement to realign the gender balance in how mainstream country music operates. So to replace the rap segment of the controversial ‘Country’ with a snippet of ‘9 to 5’ proved ingenious.
Like so many live performances witnessed, the stand out moments come from an alternative source than that previously enjoyed on record. On Angaleena’s debut album, ‘Dry County Blues’ just eclipsed ‘Grocery Store’, but it was role reversal here. This was even though the former was the second song of the show to embed a classic, with on this occasion ‘Mammas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up into Cowboys’ getting the segmented treatment. The two other songs, which had their live status elevated, were the sensational ‘Outlaw’, complete with its infatuating chorus line, and a glorious oldie from the Pistol Annies days ‘Lemon Drop’. Throw in the fabulously cutting ‘Bless Your Heart’ and the crowned element of Angaleena’s set list sparkled in this artificially darkened afternoon setting of Sage 2.
In another example of astute festival matching, one of Britain’s leading song writing talents leaning in an Americana direction – Danni Nicholls, was scheduled to open for Angaleena. Fresh from a similar supreme solo performance earlier in the month at the Maverick Festival, Danni sumptuously delivered a range of her songs from two albums, which are now firmly entrenched as extensively praised efforts. Stage timings obviously curtailed Danni giving the full background to songs such as ‘A Little Redemption’, but an appreciative audience got the abbreviated drift. This commanding performance ensured invited audience contribution to ‘Where the Blue Train Goes’ and ‘Back to Memphis’ was heeded, while ‘Beautifully Broken’ will always be up there among the highlights of any Danni Nicholls set. One footnote was Danni appearing to still find a feel for the new song ‘Ancient Embers’. This tune sounded great when first unveiled in Birmingham, further confirmed at Maverick and now sealed at SummerTyne. If fan reaction has any pull, it should be here to stay.