Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Danny and the Champions of the World + The Dreaming Spires - Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham Sunday 29th September 2013

Danny and the Champions of the World
Photo Courtesy of Sorin Russo
On an evening when Fleetwood Mac turned back the years to please their legions of fans at a reunion gig at the nearby LG Arena, across the city a lower key gathering which was by no means any less electric, saw Danny and the Champions of the World give a Midlands launch of their new album to a loyal and passionate following. The acclaim and praise for the highly soulful STAY TRUE has poured in from the music intelligentsia far and wide. The five songs from the album Danny featured in this evening’s set brought the record to life and the oozing of its sheer emotion justified the lofty status of the appeal.

Prior to Danny and his talented posse taking to the stage, the Hare and Hounds welcomed back The Dreaming Spires to ease through their style of alt-country/Americana with a bunch of tunes very much inspired by their New World adventures and admirably collated on their debut album BROTHERS IN BROOKLYN for a dose of listening pleasure. With this being the 3rd straight occasion of seeing the band, the architects of Joe and Robin Bennett, play a forty-minute set, hopefully it won’t be too long before their shows are extended. A work-in-progress follow up album which should appear in early 2014 will provide the material and on the evidence of a superb track previewed on the evening the unveiling will be a tasty prospect. While ‘Strength in Strings’ from the current album was a track that emerged from the pack with an enhanced live version, the impassioned epic-like ‘You Know You Got Soul’ created the lasting impression of what to expect in the future.

The review of Danny’s album mentioned the instant appeal of the opening track ‘(Never Stop Building) That Old Space Rocket’ and in true correlation this fabulous song splendidly launched the second half of the gig. With the iconic line of ‘three chords and a heart on fire, something about walking out on the wire’, coupled with the brass input of the Bennett Brothers and Free Jazz Geoff, a high precedence was set from the off and subsequently the boys didn’t disappoint. There were no seasonal ailments that a couple of brandies couldn’t deal with as an undeterred Danny didn’t shy away from the aching ‘Stop Thief!’ which echoed the depth of commitment to live and breathe an album drenched in country soul. Over the course of the near hour and half set, we were further treated to ‘Cold Cold World’, ‘Other Days’ and ‘Darlin’ Won’t You Come in From the Cold’ and hopefully in the future more of the album will get its deserved live airing.

The Dreaming Spires
Photo courtesy of Sorin Russo
While Danny is the voice, heartbeat and soul of the project, the Champs are the true essence of the sound where a freedom of expression blends seamlessly the pedal steel, percussion, bass, lead and acoustic guitar. Throw in a little random keyboard and horns to re-create the artistic fusion that was embedded in the Stax sound and you can begin to imagine the aura that filled this intimate venue. The set list sprinkled with old favourites such as ‘Colonel and the King’, ‘Every Beat of my Heart’ and ‘These Days’ was far from comprehensive but the extended interpretation of the numbers to showcase the band’s immense ability to deliver a tight sound ensured the evening was a fulfilling experience.

By adding the album to your ‘bucket list’ and following it up by catching one of Danny and the Champions of the World’s  live dates, your senses will be amply rewarded and you will be supporting one of the precious talents rooted in the UK alt-country and Americana scene. This is serious praise that is fully justified, so the rest is over to you. 

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