Carly Pearce’s ’29: Written in Stone’ was one of my favourite albums released last year. The songwriting was magnificent, she wore her heart on her sleeve in her honest and raw lyrics. I was delighted when she announced her first UK tour after previously seeing her perform at Country 2 Country. Sarah Darling was supporting at her Manchester gig, with a guitarist by her side. Many in the audience knew her songs and sang along, her sweet vocals resonating around the room as she sung songs off her latest record including a song penned by Carly Pearce herself which the crowd fell silent to appreciate. The crowd grew loud as Carly Pearce’s band entered the stage and began to play. It was a tiny venue with a tiny stage that the band filled and though Pearce didn’t have much space to work the stage she somehow made it work. She immediately showed the room why she was reigning CMA and ACM Female Vocalist of the Year with her powerful voice cutting through the air. Her band looked the part and were tight knit. She seemed genuinely surprised by the crowds reaction and took time to talk about each song as she went along, making the audience laugh on occasion with her wit and great sense of humour. She invited Sarah Darling out to sing fan favourite ‘Never Wanted To Be That Girl’ that was recently nominated for four CMA awards. She ramped up the energy levels in the room with a cover of Shania Twain’s ‘Man I Feel Like A Woman’ which everyone helped her out with! Though the focus was on her latest album, Pearce revisited her first two records too, playing my personal favourite ‘If My Name Was Whiskey’ which she penned with Shane McAnally and Busbee. She went on to talk more in depth about the impact and influence Busbee had on her and her career as she paid tribute to her producer who passed away in 2019. In a stripped back segment of the show she performed ‘Show Me Around’ the song she wrote after Busbee passed away. She also spoke openly and honestly about her divorce as she sung ’29’ and her latest single, another fan favourite, ‘What He Didn’t Do’. Again she was blown away that the whole Manchester crowd was singing along. ‘Every Little Thing’ her breakout hit was the highlight of the show for many audience members as that’s where they first came to know and love Pearce’s music. She paid tribute to 90’s female country music as she performed another cover, The Dixie Chicks ‘Cowboy, Take Me Away’ which, again, had the whole crowd singing along. As she began to edge towards the end of her set, Pearce took the tempo up, finishing on ‘Hide the Wine’ as the packed out Gorilla danced and swayed along. As she left the stage and the house lights came back on, the crowd refused to leave, calling for more. Thrust into darkness, the band returned and as Pearce belted out ‘I Hope You’re Happy Now’ she took various items from the audience and showed off her multi-tasking skills as she signed tickets, hats and CD booklets all whilst flawlessly hitting every note. She showed Manchester why she is up for awards that recognise her songwriting prowess as well as her powerful vocal ability. She is an entertainer too as she endeared herself to the crowd the way she held herself on stage and spoke so candidly about her songs. She left us with a promise to return.