“Well, there’s only two of us but we know how to create a big sound. Lots of Blues, Gospel and Country. Lots of vocal harmonies. Foot stomping, audience clapping and sing along songs and some soulful ballads too.” Was how Dani Wilde described what we would be hearing when I spoke to her for an INTERVIEW recently. She and brother Will Wilde certainly delivered on that promise in Cologne’s Yardclub on Tuesday…
If I lived in Cologne then the Yardclub would likely replace Bonn’s Harmonie as my ‘second home’. Owner Marcus Neu is certainly one of the local heroes of the music scene to me. Someone who clearly puts musical talent before making big bucks. The upcoming concerts read like a who’s who of people I read about in Blues/Rock magazines but who are aren’t well known enough to get the audiences they deserve – yet.
Dani Wilde of course is quite well known here especially through two stints on the RUF Blues Caravan, and her blues-harp toting brother Will has made visits here too. Never as a duo though. Will their combined talent be as much as their combined enthusiasm?
There’s something pleasantly time-warped about the interior of the Yardclub. Dark and smoky with lighting running round the walls that puts me in mind of lava lamps. Psychedelic walls to trip to until the lights go out on the wall and on on the stage. Neither Will nor Dani is big in stature but they somehow fill the whole stage with their presence. They make an interesting duo before even playing a note: Will with an intense look that seems always in search of something not quite tangible – a seriousness, awe even, towards the blues classics and their legendary creator. In contrast, Dani has a warm smile and easy-going charm that can make everyone in a crowded room feel like she’s their friend.
It’s this combination that makes tonight’s show so enjoyable. Happy enthusiasm, and deep veneration. How can you not enjoy and respect classic songs like ‘Wade in the Water’ and ‘Ain’t no Sunshine’ though? How can you not enjoy hearing two people themselves clearly enjoying playing blues classics like ‘What Makes People’ and ‘Walking by Myself’? Especially when Will Wilde slips a Seydel harp between his lips and begins to blow.
As someone who loves the sounds of Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson II I’m in Chicago heaven when Will takes off. You will pay a lot of money to see Bluesharp players who are not in the same league as Will Wilde – Why aren’t there five times as many people at this show I find myself thinking as he tears up Leroy Carr’s ‘Mean Mistreatin Mama’ with a harp mastery that would have made Big Walter Horton smile I’m sure.
I could sing the praises of Will’s passionate playing all evening, but I need to say just as much in praise of his big sister. Dani Wilde is always something of an enigma to me. If you walked into the Yardclub without knowing who was playing that evening and looked around the people in the auditorium, the chances are you wouldn’t bet on the diminutive lady taking the stage, even taking her large red feathery earrings into account. It takes her all of ten seconds to have the audience in the palm of her hands though. She dedicates a plaintive but beautifully understated ‘Angel of Montgomery’ to BB King and truthfully, although her spirited own composition ‘Let me show you’ is a delight it’s the slow numbers that stand out most.
There is a slight lisp to Dani Wilde’s delivery that puts an extra spin on everything she sings. Somehow lending an extra aura of authenticity to already highly charged numbers. A highlight was ‘Loving You’. Was this really written by her and not a 50’s classic? It’s been a pleasure to see how Dani’s songwriting has progressed since I first heard her and it’s a pity there isn’t room for more from her new ‘Songs About You’ CD. It may not be blues, but it is chock full of top notch songs that would be the highlights on CD’s by many of the so called pop superstar females filling stadiums these days.
I suspect the shift in musical direction couldn’t have happened with RUF records, but on her own Britone label Dani Wilde has come out with her best material yet. Off of the turntable and back to the Yardclub stage, and the presence of brother Will means that the music this evening is tilted heavily towards the colour Blue – somehing the audience is probably quite happy about. I’m not complaining either.
We even get to choose between Dani doing ‘Rather go blind’ or ‘Love Hurts’. I’m rather glad that the choice came down to the latter. It’s a favourite of mine (and of Dani’s) via the Nazareth version, and you would be excused for wondering how this girl could be as effective as the rock roar of Dan Mcafferty. Somehow, alone with just a guitar she steps down from the stage barefoot, to stun us all with an emotional intensity that only a big musical heart could muster.
Editing photos from the show next day it occurs to me that Dani Wilde looks a little older since I last caught her show. There’s a depth to her expression that matches the depth in her voice. A depth that has created a superb new disc as I later discovered.
In their own ways both Dani and Will Wilde really are very special talents. They may never be superstars but will always be super musicians. The very stuff of which Yardclub concerts are made in fact.