This was a Loose Music double act to savour. William The Conqueror opened with a pulsating support set. Ruarri Joseph, Harry Harding and Naomi Holmes produced a stonking sound, playing several tracks from their great new album “Proud Disturber of the Peace”.
As appetisers go William the Conqueror served up a treat with traces of Chuck Berry, blues and Americana with powerful riffs and a healthy slab of bass. At times Joseph’s drawl drifted stylishly into Frank Zappa territory. Keep an eye on these guys.
Onto the main course which was to be laced with spice and soul. In the break between sets, one of the warm-up tracks over the PA system was Little Milton’s “We’re Gonna Make It”. With this being Danny and the Champs’ biggest gig to date it seems as if they will.
Most the band drifted onto the stage to tinker with their instruments during the break. Danny spotted several friendly faces in the crowd and glad-handed the front row on his way off stage. Normally that happens after the show. But there is nothing normal about this band.
When the band came on stage proper Danny carried a beer and what looked like a mug of tea. He greeted the sell-out crowd at Scala with his London accent “You awright?”
In an explosive 18-track set lasting nearly two hours Danny and his Champs included 11 tracks from the new, critically acclaimed ‘Brilliant Light” double album.
Kicking off with “Let The Water Wash Over You’ and running straight into “Consider Me” the audience was already hollering with delight. Danny and his Champs are slick, polished and give a superb live show. If there’s a better live band I’d like to know. The tunes from the new album were brought to life with vigour, not restricted to replicating the recordings, and several tracks were given extended versions which gave the band members room to breathe.
Singer Danny Wilson’s superb rasping soul voice and committed delivery feeds off the excellent musicianship of the other six band members. These guys rock and they enjoy it. Wilson puts his heart and soul into every song and hops around the stage an unlikely-looking hero, dancing with his guitar and any band member that will join him.
Midway through the set we get another “You awright?” but this time it was only a formality as everyone was certainly more than awright. Wilson has a habit at live shows of asking the audience if they have any questions. One question was “What’s in the mug?” to which the answer was “It’s wine. Wine is best drunk from a mug, I get kicked out of a lot of wine bars for doing that. It’s like having pineapple on your pizza”.
“Never In The Moment” saw Danny without guitar, putting his heart, soul and considerable voice into it. With “Restless” the band laid down an almost Steely Dan groove over which his vocals soared.
Other standout tracks were “Every Beat Of My Heart” from the “Hearts and Arrows” album with great slide guitar work from Henry Senior Jr, “You’ll Remember Me” and the wonderful “Clear Water” from the 2015 album “What Kind Of Love”.
The encore was in two parts. First a solo performance by Danny of “Swift Street”, a track about his childhood, which he dedicated to his mum. The band joined him for a rousing version of the crowd pleaser “Space Rocket” which he dedicated to his dad. After spotting his parents on the balcony he said it was “cheesy” to dedicate tracks to them.
There’s nothing cheesy about this band. Great tunes. Great delivery. Great band.