@ The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
There’s a few greased quiffs and leather jackets in the audience tonight – Dan Sartain might not think he fits a rockabilly pigeonhole, but his image sends quite a different message out. As does the extra reverb I hear him getting dialled in at soundcheck. The image does him no harm, fitting his wired energy, cheekbones and eyes bulging with excitement.
Last time we saw Dan he was backed by the electrifyingly wild Plate 6. This time out, he’s gone for a sound closer to his records with a cool drummer and a steady bassist, providing competent back-up without setting the place on fire. As they said when I asked how long they’d worked with Dan: “What day of the week is it?” Stepping up to the old-fashioned microphone, Dan rests his nose on it (gonna end up with a Michael Jackson nose, don’t’cha know?) His quiff rapidly begins to collapse in the heat as his goofy grin and wired expression show how much he loves attention. The nerves keep him from chatting at the start, though and his painfully skinny frame jerks as he gets off on the thrill. He leads us through some rock and roll / rockabilly till he finally says hello as he introduces Bohemian Grove, a recent single. Combine the image, the Vox combi amp and it is a perfect combination of sound and image but strangely uninvolving. Yes Men follows, and an older single – Flight Of The Finch. The band follows politely but never pushes him and he rests content with his echoey shimmering twang. Adam Minshaw, on drums, pulls faces and plays splashy cymbals while John Kang plucks his bass with steady speedy strokes.
As Sartain relaxes he talks about how people used to spit but now they just leave empty beer glasses on the stage (The Brudenell is a pretty, ahem, intimate venue). A solo acoustic spot, playing audience requests with a splashy echo, is disappointing – Dan’s rhythm is too simple and sing-song – he really needs a band with him. The drums return to back Drama Queens and Hungry End before the bass comes back, too, to play a new one, not on the very recent album. With that, we’re pretty much at the end of the 45 minute set and he’s squeezed 15 songs in. It’s good to hear these tight and economical songs, with style and attitude, but I look for something more from a live gig – a new angle, a different arrangement, a connection, something new. For all the excellent style of The Brudenell Social Club and Dan’s efforts to style himself, this was an uninvolving evening.
More Dan Sartain on Vanguard Online:
Album Review – May 10
Album Review - 2007
Interview - 2007
Live Review - 2007