The evening started with a brilliant opening set from Una Healey. Hailing from Ireland and a former member of The Saturdays, her voice had a warm mellow sound. She opened her set with Please Don’t Tell Me which was a lovely tune, which really set out her stall as an artist. Una followed this with Staring At The Moon , a song that she wrote for her daughter. The premise of the song is that wherever Una and her daughter are in the world, due to Una’s constant touring, both Una and her daughter are connected by staring at the moon. I thought this was a beautiful story to go with the song. There were a few other lovely tunes which ended with Black is the Colour. Una believes the tune is based on an old Celtic tune. As someone who has a Scottish ancestry I could clearly hear how there was a Celtic influence in the song. I really enjoyed Una’s set. Her debut EP is going to be available early next year, and based on that set, I am looking forward to it.
The crowd gathered throughout the evening until the hall was packed to the rafters and an expectant crowd were waiting for history making Ward Thomas to grace the stage. When they did they received loud, warm applause. It felt like it was a homecoming gig.
The girls opened with Different, a mellow track from their current album. The audience listened so intently and respectfully you could have heard a pin drop. They continued with the mellow theme by performing Where The Sky Should Be. I have seen Ward Thomas numerous times now but each time I see them I am always blown away by how tight their harmonies are. If The Everley Brothers heard them I think they would be impressed.
Lizzie then said hello to us all and that’s when the party really started. They played Boomerang which is an upbeat number and the response from the crowd was equally fast paced with cheering and clapping throughout.
They played Dirt and Gold which was met with an equally warm reception. This was followed by Material. Lizzie played the piano in this performance. I didn’t know Lizzie could play the piano, and she plays it very well. It was nice to see the girls show off their other instrumental talents.
After playing Almost Easy, the girls then paid their respects to Sir Terry Wogan, to whom they feel they owe a lot. Terry was always a champion of new music and new talent. It was Terry who played their first single on Radio 2. Their first single was The Good and the Right. They did a rockier rendition of this which shows how they have grown as artists and performers.
They then played the “coolest song” according to Radio 1- Guilty Flowers. With this being one of their singles on their current album, it was well known by fans and with most singing along.
The volume was brought down a notch or two by the performing of Safe which is a lovely mellow song that is a throwback to the country music of yesteryear. The audience as always listened respectfully and attentively.
Cartwheels , which coincidently is their latest single, was next to be performed. I really think this song shows off the girls’ voices and harmonies.
Lizzie asked the crowd to join in by singing “For the stride”, a level of excitement and anticipation quickly filled the room, as we all knew Push for the Stride was coming up. I think it is fair to say this is a fan favourite and a classic Ward Thomas number.
The band then played a stripped down version of Proof. This for me was the highlight of the gig. The drummer played a beatbox, the guitarist played a ukulele and the keyboard player played an accordion. It was a real treat to see the musical talents of the band. The use of instruments that you don’t hear every day, especially at a country gig, made it a real standout performance.
The girls finished the main set with Carry You Home which was well known due to it being a single. I thought this was a clever song to finish on as it was nearly home time, and the girls were carrying us home in a musical sense.
After a lot of cheering and applause, the girls returned to the stage to perform Who I’m Not which is a slow song but does show their voices of well. It was at this point I thought it would be cool if they played Town Called Ugley as it is a real lively number and happens to be one of my favourites. It was as if they read my mind because that is exactly what they did! I even had to let out a little cheer when I heard the opening bars.
After the gig, I was fortunate enough to meet them. I have to say their happy demeanour, and humility, is one of the many reasons I, like many others, love them. We all left the gig having had a wonderful night’s entertainment.
I am seeing them again over the next couple of months, and I cannot wait for the gigs!