There’s a moment, about two-thirds of the way through this gig, that seems to sum up the vibe totally.
Danny Bryant walks over to his band and seemingly off the cuff, they play a version of “I Shall Be Released”.
It encapsulates the show for a couple of reasons – not least of which is that it is expertly played by a band as good as it gets – but it also seems (from my vantage point anyway) that it was totally unplanned up until the moment that Bryant thought of it.
This gig is not one that’s “part of a tour” as it were. Bryant is going on the road in a week or so, but this is a show that was cancelled back in the spring, and as such, by the main man’s own admission, they are trying some new stuff out.
One of these is a version of “Catfish Blues” done in the style of Hendrix – because apparently Danny had been listening to an outtake’s album last week – and it is superb. It is the second Hendrix sojourn of the night. The first had been a little more well-known – “Little Wing”, but such is the quality of the musicianship here that they find a new angle for it.
Keysman Stevie Watts is in particularly impressive form, his organ work in particular a perfect foil for Bryant’s guitar and it is almost as integral.
This wasn’t just a night for covers, though. Bryant has built up a fine back catalogue. “Blood Money” and the more bluesy “On The Rocks” are both fine showcases of this, while “Heartbreaker” allows the whole band – completed by drummer Dave Raeburn and bass player Alex Phillips – take a turn and it sounds excellent.
As does the closing “Painkiller”. Starting with just Watt’s piano and Bryant’s underrated voice, it soon builds up into a mighty crescendo, the band cuts loose and the night has it’s real highlight.
Indeed, the only real cloud on this horizon – and it does need mentioning – is that, as sometimes happens when Danny Bryant plays here, the crowd is small. He deserves better. His talent is up there with many and his band is right in the top draw. Why Danny Bryant, in the West Midlands at least, remains such a secret is something that I can’t fathom, and after a 75 minutes with the array of sounds and textures that this one has, you can only hope that the penny drops – because Bryant, if he had energy to feed off like some of his peers, would surely be a totally different proposition.