21/11/2010 | Sarah Blasko – Deaf Institute, Manchester

Catherine May

When the headline artist of a gig stands amongst the crowd throughout the support acts, a relaxed gig atmosphere is created. And as Sarah Blasko moved from one side of the audience to the other in a long red coat, I couldn’t help but feeling I was playing a real life version of Where’s Wally. As the second support act, the notably impressive Allie Moss, drew her set to a close, Blasko disappeared backstage before returning, coatless, to the stage.

Dressed in a black dress and matching leggings, she was surrounded by her four band mates also dressed in black. Happy music this isn’t, but her quirky personality was soon to crack a smile on our faces. Working her way through Bird on a Wire immediately after opener Down on Love it was evident that Sarah Blasko the singer and Sarah Blasko the speaker are different people.

The theme between her songs is inevitably one of heartbreak and unhappiness; the likes of Lost & Defeated and I Never Knew have titles that don’t exactly scream enthusiasm and positivity. Yet Blasko’s stage banter remained humorous throughout. She joked about her guitarist’s fake Scottish accent and thoroughly embarrassed an audience member whose friend had shouted out his love for Blasko. But when Blasko opens her mouth to sing, the mood instantly changes. Is My Baby Yours? silenced the crowd with its repetitive title aching into the hearts of everyone.

A real mix of songs was offered to the crowd. Old favourite All Coming Back was played by just Sarah and her pianist, whist Into Light was given its first ever full band performance. Then there was the ‘glove specific’ track Sleeper Awake, in which Blasko put on a pair of red gloves, wore them for the song, then removed them straight after saying it was too hot.

Blasko is a quirky performer who knows how to balance sombre music with an enlightened stage presence. And as she left us with the morose Night and Day before thanking the crowd for what must have been at least the twenty seventh time, we all shared the desire to have her return to Manchester again soon.

www.sarahblasko.com