Live Review: Lauren Housley and the Northern Cowboys / Nigel Wearne – Alder Bar, Sheffield  21.01.2023

Jason Siddall

A trip to the Alder Bar at Kelham Island in Sheffield on a very cold January night for what promised to be a relaxed, intimate (and sold out) gig at a venue I hadn’t been to before.

First impressions were really good, a real ale welcoming pub atmosphere, a separate room for live entertainment and reasonable drinks prices, a good start to the night.

First up on stage was Nigel Wearne hailing from Australia and accompanying Lauren on this UK tour. Nigel is a real talent, warm and charismatic with an Aussie charm that instantly engaged the Sheffield crowd.  Tonight’s stripped back set included a selection of acoustic self penned blues / folk songs featuring impressive guitar and banjo work along with accompanying harmonica. Between songs Nigel told engaging stories about how Australian history inspired his writing alongside amusing anecdotes about his own life experiences. 

If you haven’t heard Nigel’s music check out his latest single To The Edge featuring Lauren Housley. He is off to America to perform at major events and festivals after this tour and is working on a new album. Hopefully, Mr Wearne will grace our shores again very soon.

So onto Lauren Housley, full disclosure, I am already a fan of Laurens having seen her perform with a live band previously, so I was intrigued to see how tonights three piece show would compare. 

With Husband Tom on Guitar and Mark Lewis on Double Bass, an all acoustic show tonight, a decision I guess based on the size of the venue and in my opinion the correct one. Lauren has a superb vocal tone, and tonights set up allowed for that to really shine through. Clearly enjoying the occasion, a pretty much home town show (she lives in Rotherham), Lauren looked happy and relaxed, engaging the audience with genuine enthusiasm. 

A set featuring songs from an impressive back catalogue including upbeat ‘This Ain’t the Life’ short but powerful ‘Two Lovers Lost in Space’ and my personal favourite ‘Stay Awake to Dream’. Tom featured on vocals for ‘Cradle of Love’, Lauren asked the audience for song requests a nice touch adding an air of spontaneity to the show.

Nigel joined the band on stage for the final part of the show, and encores were plentiful. A cover of ‘Jolene’ sealed the deal and finished off a fantastic evening of fun, first class musicianship and excellent vocals. What’s not to like..

Check out Lauren’s 2021 album ‘Girl From The North’ on all major streaming platforms and look out for a promised future tour with an eight piece band, definitely something to look forward to.

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