“A dream come true” is how Royston’s finest Blues export describes his latest project – taking a nine-piece band on the road, including a four-piece horn section.
It was a dream that only three venues were allowed to share as these were selected for an audio-recording due for release in April. Bonn was one of the lucky Cities and we were treated to a powerful blast of the Blues.
Given the current Brexit negotiations it might not be financially possible for anyone but the likes of Bob Dylan to afford taking this many bodies on the road. All the more reason then to enjoy the evenings fare. Blues and brass? It worked well enough for BB King of course, but how will it work at the hands of a man more used to fronting a classic rock power trio? Very well as it turns out.
I love the sheer dynamics between Danny Bryant playing and Danny Bryant talking. The chunky, sometimes Hendrixy, riffs seem at odds with the gentle, polite Hertfordshire accent. A big man with a soft and delicate turn of musical phrase, a man of contradictions but primarily a man who has a feel for the Blues and wants to push it in various directions to see what comes out – hence the Big Band Tour. Three shows – two Germany and one Holland – from which a CD will be created for a Big Band tour that, at the time of writing, is itself only three shows: In Belfast, Edinburgh and of course, London.
On the strength of this evenings show the cities getting this Big Band treatment will be lucky ones indeed. The extra ‘kick’ that this well oiled horn section delivers really adds a new dimension to some already classic Bryant numbers. ‘Blood Money’, ‘Prisoner of the Blues’, Temperature Rising’, all have just a little extra bite, a little extra texture. Even when Bryant takes a solo you feel that the extra man (and girl) power behind him are pushing him on for a better solo. There’s a hunger to show everyone what he can do with this combo. It was on his face from the moment he stepped onstage and still there almost two hours later when he left it.
Killer number of the evening for me was ‘Painkiller’. It’s quite an old number (from 2013’s ‘Hurricane’) but the extra musical depth was a delight and Bryant’s vocal made it the best number I’ve heard live this year – a gauntlet laid down for musical visitors to Bonn for sure. The interplay between Bryant and keyboard man Stevie Watts was a joy to hear and let’s not forget the core of Bryant’s power is of course his power duo of Drummer Dave Raeburn and Bassist Alex Phillips. I caught the names Lauren, Mark and David from the horn section and my apologies to all of them as they really deserve proper name-checks.
No one was going home without an encore and the ones delivered were more in the classic Danny Bryant style. Kicking off with the beefy, ZZ toppish ‘riff of ‘Heartbreaker’ and followed up with ‘Greenwood 31’ – slight nod to Hendrix in the hook-line I’m sure – just as I’m sure we would all happily have listened to the Big Band and it’s Big sound for another hour at least. When Danny Bryant’s in town we are all ‘Prisoner’s of the Blues’ for sure.