3/10/2019 Danny Bryant Review and Photo by Jola Stiles

Danny Bryant is an assured performer whose personal investment in each and every song has given him a great connection with, and command over, the audience. He has the rare gift to combine sublime musicianship with a sense of the personal so essential in the blues and it comes across in his ever movement and interaction on the stage. Backed by a crack band, with whom Danny seems to share a connection bordering on the psychic, Danny remains at his best in the live environment and this show, opening up the Means of Escape tour, is no exception.

First up we have a short acoustic set from Andy Crowe, who once fronted Swift Flasby, and who is now out on his own, playing an emo-tinged brand of acoustic rock that recalls the likes of Kings of Leon with a hint of Cat Stevens thrown in for good measure. Andy has a powerful voice and he warms the crowd up with a selection of cuts including back in my arms, and not crying today. Wisely, given the sparse singer-songwriter format and audience unfamiliarity with the songs, Andy keeps the set short and to-the-point, reminding us that he has a number of singles on Spotify as he leaves the stage.

The room fills up considerably in the run up to Danny's arrival on stage. A familiar face at the Flowerpot, there are a number of long-time fans surrounding the stage and Danny makes it a point to recognise and acknowledge each and every one of them. Kicking off with the familiar holding all the cards, a rollicking number that always notches the temperature up a few degrees, he then offers up the haunting, Floyd-esque Guntown, from the exceptional temperature rising album. A track that builds to a climactic solo, it does much to showcase Danny's vocals and guitar playing skills in equal measure and, from that point on, the audience are pretty much his to do with as he will. Showcasing new album means of escape, Danny notes that they opened with older material because everyone in the band has discovered that they are old (prompting a quizzical look from keyboardist Stevie Watts, who clearly has an aged picture in an attic somewhere, because he doesn't seem to age at all). At any event, it is all about the new material tonight and the beautiful, where the river ends receives the sort of rousing reception that you'd expect from an old favourite. Similarly, the album's fantastic title track, a gritty blues with sweet guitar work and a whip-crack rhythm, meets with whoops of appreciation from an audience who are clearly considering trading in their revelations t shirts for a new model!

With the time flying by (Danny, like all the best artists knows exactly how to work the audience and hold them riveted), Danny brings out his slide and a firebird for the heavy, heavy blues of hurting time, a track with shades of Danny's long-time mentor Walter Trout. Of course, for every element of grit, there's a counterpoint – witness Danny taking to the front of a stage to deliver the extended and emotional solo for warning signs and, again, it says much of Danny's close relationship with his audience that, when he does venture out from behind the mic stand, it feels like he's playing directly to you.

Danny Bryant and his band make a venue like the Flowerpot feel like home. The obvious joy they take in playing, Danny's occasional anecdotes from the stage and the blistering power of the material, both old and new, makes for an engaging evening. Always varied, never dull, Danny takes great pains to make sure that each gig is tailored to the venue and the audience and the thrill of seeing him never diminishes. Catch him as and when you can, he stands tall as one of the country's greatest blues musicians playing today and it's hard to imagine him remaining in such venues for very long.