Sasha McVeigh / Sonia Leigh - Exchange, Bristol
The double headline tour seems to becoming a bit of a thing. And why not? It makes perfect sense on so many levels: it reduces both the costs and the chance of low turnouts, and the opportunity to reach new fans. For the punter it increases value for money and maybe introduces you to an artist you’re not familiar with. Following the successful 'Homegrown' tour from The Shires and Ward Thomas in late 2014, UK country singer Sasha McVeigh and American singer-songwriter Sonia Leigh have teamed up for the 'Mind The Gap' tour taking in most of the UK and Ireland in its two-and-a-bit weeks on the road.
Most interesting is the diversity that the two headliners bring to the self funded tour. Hereford's McVeigh leans towards country-pop, singing of One Day-esque meetings with a hot guy (‘Mr Brown Eyes’) and mixing thoughtful, emotionally-delivered songs like ‘You Only Live Once’ with the more rocking ‘No Strings Attached Romance’ and radio ready 'Stupid Girl'. In many ways McVeigh doesn't come across as terribly British: she’s chatty on stage, unfailingly positive with a bright outlook, and her music has a defined Nashville twang.
Contrast that with the punky rock - both in sound and look - of Leigh, with her flicked hair and sleeveless t-shirt. The Georgia native is a spiky presence; her songs move from the opening blast of ‘My Name Is Money’ to the fantastically funky, slinky, beast that is ‘Booty Call’. She is most definitely on the indie-rock edge of the scale. Leigh doesn't know how to not give 100%. Having worked with - and been signed by - Grammy winner Zac Brown, the American's material feels slightly more rounded than McVeigh’s - which is only to be expected as the English singer is only just on the verge of releasing her debut album.
What the tour really demonstrates is the breadth of sound that counts as country. Leigh and McVeigh are two distinctly different artists with contrasting sounds, but the closing cover of Bryan Adams' ‘Summer of ‘69’ showed that they meet through common influences and an obviously close friendship.