Oh My Darling

Live Review | The Greystones, Sheffield | Review by Allan Wilkinson

It’s been a long time since I last witnessed a standing ovation at a gig and even longer since I joined in with one.  Oh My Darling couldn’t have wished for a better reaction to their UK debut appearance at the Greystones in Sheffield tonight, where the four-piece Canadian Country Roots band headlined a showcase night featuring two other bands, the lively King Courgette and the quaintly named Mother Folkers in support.  Winnipeg’s Oh My Darling comprises Allison De Groot, one of Canada’s leading clawhammer banjo players, Rosalyn Dennett on fiddle, Vanessa Kuzina on guitar and Marie-Josee Dandeneau, otherwise known as ‘MJ’ on upright bass, who collectively brought their charismatic stage presence and musical dexterity to this popular South Yorkshire venue for a ninety-minute set of North American and Canadian roots music.  With a set largely centred around the band’s current album, their first full length release In the Lonesome Hours, including “Caught You Looking”, “Stolen Key” and “Pixou Falls”, together with a couple of their more sensitive songs, “Won’t Need My Shoes (On Heaven’s Door)” for instance, the band were indeed welcomed with open arms as pointed out by Rosalyn from the stage.  The mainly original material was augmented by one or two more familiar songs such as the traditional “Red Rocking Chair”, “Sail Away Ladies” and “Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss”, which the band chose to kick off their set with.  Each member of the band brought their own personality to the stage, Allison, the quiet one, observant, calm, doesn’t miss a trick; MJ, a descendant of Louis Riel’s Metis people, French speaking, has to run a few words past the band for a suitable English equivalent; Rosalyn, the witty one, tiny-framed with a huge personality, amazing fiddle player and then last but certainly not least, Vanessa, wearing her heart on her sleeve, sensitive, unafraid to share her heartache through her delightfully sensitive songs, such as the gorgeous “All the Sweetness”, co-written with friend Sam Baker.  Oh My Darling’s combined stage presence left just as much of an impression as did the music they played.  One of the high points of the concert was the ‘fiddle Sticks’ duet, which featured Vanessa brandishing a pair of knitting needles, which she then rhythmically struck bandmate Rosalyn’s prized violin whilst she played, careful not to damage either the fiddle nor the fiddler player’s hands along the way.  One can imagine where the expression ‘fiddlesticks’ came from, with each strike on the knuckle.  Having said that, I’m certain Rosalyn would have a much more choice Metis expression if that should ever occur!  After the band’s last song, “Love Me Love Me Not”, from the band’s Love Shack EP, Oh My Darling returned to the stage after a lengthy and loud call for more from a now standing audience, performing a couple of newer songs Anna K, also from the Love Shack EP and finally Tom Cochran’s “Life Is A Highway”.  As Oh My Darling near the end of their first European tour with only a handful of UK dates, we can only await with eager anticipation their speedy return.  A thoroughly uplifting experience.