“I love being in a rock ‘n roll band. It’s the only job in the world where you can have three pints and a chinese before work.” Wilson patted his stomach and grinned. On the evidence of last night’s performance at Brighton Bleach this over-indulgence isn’t having any adverse affects on the performance of Danny or his Champions of the World.
This was the last night of the Champs UK Tour, and they are about to have a few days off before heading to the studio to record their fifth studio album. Their fifth actual album, a live recording entitled ‘Live Champs,’ was released a few weeks ago to acclaim, and in essence its promotion was the purpose of this tour. In reality, however, it always seems like Danny & The Champions of the World make records to promote their live work, rather than the other way around. This is a band who should have their tours sponsored by Carlsberg.
From the moment they launched into (Never Stop Building) That Old Space Rocket until they ended with a rousing version of These Days the energy in the room never slackened. It is- and this is a comparison that has been made before- like watching Bruce and his E Street Band in miniature. This is an association that Danny doesn’t seem to discourage- and why would he; indeed at one point last night he incorporated lyrics from Thunder Road into one of his own compositions, and-shh- he seems to have quietly stolen the bassline from Darkness On The Edge Of Town for another. There is obviously a strong New Jersey influence to their music, but despite that, they are still rather unique.
This is a band that have absolutely mastered their art. Hannah-Lou, half of the support act and a former Champ, made the point earlier in the evening that in the early part of their career the band were rather chaotic and often didn’t know all of the songs they were supposed to be playing. Those days are long gone. These are amongst the most consummately gifted musicians you are ever likely to hear. Lead guitarist Paul Lush, particularly- and most notably on The Colonel And The King- delivered a performance that resembled Clapton in his pomp. The Australian sheep farming industry may feel his loss, but the music loving world gains enormously. By the way, other stereotypical Australian industries are available.
As they careered through the highlights of their back catalogue it was impossible not to be struck by the warmth in the room; and however you interpret that statement it would still be correct. The ‘banter’ flew in all directions; within the band and with the crowd. Everyone was relaxed in each other’s company to the extent that it felt almost like a family get together; although it was disappointing that Danny’s Mum refused to take to the stage during Henry the Van and deliver the interpretive dance which her son had promised. Shame on you, Mrs W.
During Henry the Van, incidentally, Danny encouraged audience participation by the vehicle of the “international language of wo-oh;” and the audience “wo-oh’d” with delight- indeed, even when the song had ended they kept up the refrain. It was a rather beautiful moment.
The new songs fitted well with the old. Words On The Wind and Clear Water, particularly, will undoubtedly go on to become firm favourites, and so long as they aren’t accompanied by a plethora of covers of Hazel O’Connor B sides the album will be a delight (apparently these are a specialist subject in every Champs Pop Quiz, coming to a Travelodge near you soon). But it was the old favourites that made the audience roar. You Don’t Know (My Heart is in the Right Place) and Every Beat of my Heart caused the expected palpitations. You can imagine the reaction created by Restless Feet.
There were moments, perhaps, when songs were slightly overplayed; when solos were a little too long and indulgent- not that anyone was likely to complain. But there can be few live bands in the UK who perform as well as this. Tickets for last night’s sold out show retailed at twelve pounds. You could pay ten times that for other acts and not be so royally entertained.
Early in the evening, as the singer showed off his new shirt, he commented that it must be made of Lycra. Well you needn’t worry Danny. We don’t care about the width; we can feel the quality.
Published on in Random Ramblings.