It’s a filthy, ‘orrible Tuesday night in Leeds, of that make no mistake. And torrential downpours, flash flooding and hazardous driving conditions earlier in the evening may well have contributed to there only being about 50 folk inside the Brudenell’s main concert room come a quarter to nine. So, for those of you who, for whatever reason, couldn’t make it down here tonight I must tell you that you missed out on an absolute treat for this was unquestionably the best gig of the year thus far. Yes, it really was that good.
From the moment that this tall, rangy dude with long straggly hair and a beard, wearing a Tractor band T-shirt and with a trucker’s cap pulled way down over his eyes wandered unassumingly onto the stage and plonked himself down behind the battered old upright piano positioned stage left and launched into a stunning solo rendition of ‘Stuck in the Bones’, you kind of sensed that this was always going to be a wee bit special.
The man in question was Daniel Norgren. The song was taken from his third album, 2010’s Horrifying Deatheating Bloodspider. And together they set the wheels in motion for what would be an exhilarating journey through a rich musical past but somehow ended up sounding like it was brand spanking new.
As the song faded out Norgren was joined on stage by Andreas Filipsson on guitar, drummer Erik Berntsson and Anders Grahn on upright bass. As the first bars of ‘The Flow’ strike up, the musical connection and understanding between the four men is instantly apparent. These guys have worked together for years now and empathy, trust and mutual respect clearly lies at the heart of this established collaboration.
‘The Flow’ is taken from Daniel Norgren’s eighth studio album, Wooh Dang which was released back in April to widespread critical acclaim. And hearing many of those songs in this live arena here tonight you can see just exactly why. They are infused with passion, meaning and widespread creative expression, as Norgren first translates and then melds together the musical languages of Americana, Southern blues, country rock, roots and soul. It feels fresh and alive and the Brudenell’s sound – always something that is consistently strong – is particularly pristine tonight.
A suitably muscular ballad, ‘The Power’ lives up to its name and by the time that Daniel Norgren has moved centre stage, strapped on his electric guitar and led the band into ‘Rolling Rolling Rolling’, they are in full flight. With its references to the transformation of his grandfather’s house (presumably) after his death, ‘Music Tape’, from Norgren’s 2013 long player Buck, is undeniably poignant. As the tempo of the song gradually increases and both guitars crest a rise you are put in mind of the majestic title track from Television’s album Marquee Moon.
‘Black Vultures’ loads up on yet further supplies of retro-rocket fuel before blasting beyond the Earth’s orbit when Norgren and Berntsson enjoy a battle royal between their respective guitar and drums. A new song – possibly called ‘Helping Hand’ – is inspired by a traumatic photograph Norgren had seen of a 5 year old boy lying face-down in the sand and adds a layer of dappled shade and sadness to the occasion, before the band achieve lift off again through ‘Dandelion Time’ and ‘People Are Good’.
There may only be two score and ten of us in the crowd but we holler and we shout and the band do return to send us back into that treacherous night with a barnstorming ‘Let Love Run The Game’. Suddenly that weather doesn’t seem quite so bad outside after all.
Photos: Simon Godley
More photos from this show can be found HERE