I had been to see Tift at the Live Theatre in Newcastle in May, and was delighted to see that she was back so soon, this time opening for Dwight Yoakam. What was different was the venue, this time it was at the Sage, Gateshead, just over the river. This is a much larger, hall, I believe it seats 1700, and seating is on 3 or 4 levels. It’s an intimate atmosphere at the Live Theatre, less so here, and the fact that she was opening for Dwight, I was very interested to see how she would do. It’s probably fair to say that most would have been there to see Dwight, but I was there, obviously, to see Tift. It was a kind of a ’cowboy hats’ affair, clearly Dwight Yoakam is a big name, and when he did come on some people were jumping and singing an all that, probably a fairly typical country music show.
The hall was fairly packed, and while she’s in the UK, it seems that she performs at the smaller venues, so I would imagine it might have been quite daunting, but there again Tift is capable of anything! She was accompanied by a guitarist, James Walbourne (thanks Vicky). This is probably a good time to say that I wish she had had a full band with her, perhaps given the audience size and type! It may have given her a better chance of winning over some new converts - I’m not sure about this at all, just an observation really.
Any concerns were soon put to one side, and as you might imagine, Tift did a great job of trying to win over the audience. There seems to be this ‘silence’ in the UK, so at least everyone was listening, but I felt she had to work harder because of this. The more songs she did, the louder the applause, so I’m fairly sure that by the end of her set she had created a favourable impression. At one point early on she said she was from North Carolina and was anyone else from there. Somebody shouted that they were, and Tift replied to the effect that maybe they were or that they could just be making it up!
The set order was - Stray Paper, Write My Ticket, Aint Lookin Closely, Still Pretending, Supposed to Make You Happy, Laid a Highway, Late Night Pilgrim, Goodhearted Man, Shadow in the Way. James went offstage before Supposed to Make You Happy, and when he came back after the song, Tift asked him if he had been for a drink or to see a woman! This got a laugh, so again a great connection with the audience. Obviously the set wasn’t as long as the one a couple of months previously, but I felt that she showed everyone there who perhaps didn’t know her music exactly what she can do.