Monday, March 19, 2018

Dan Patlansky - The Cluny, Newcastle, 16 March 2018

Supposedly The Cluny isn’t sold out for this visit by Dan Patlansky.  You could have fooled me.  Arriving a bit later than intended, I find myself perching on a step at the back of the room to get a decent view.  Evidently Dan Patlansky is creating some expectations, and tonight he does an impressive job of meeting them.
Dapper in a double-breasted waistcoat and white shirt, he gets out of the starting blocks with the punchy and rhythmic ‘Johnny’, followed up by ‘Never Long Enough’, both from new album Perfection Kills.  It’s testament to his live performance, and the tightness of the band he’s recruited in Hamburg for this tour, that the latter packs a good deal more oomph than on the album.  Keyboard player Tom Gatza then underlines his contribution with sparkling piano and organ solos on ‘Heartbeat’, from 2016’s Introvertigo album.
"Here we go again!" says Dan Patlansky's Strat
Patlansky underlines his blues roots with a driving version of BB King’s ‘You Upset Me Baby’.  His own approach is decidedly different from the ‘single note’ playing style of BB however.  When he lays back, as on ‘Mayday’, with its gentle, considered guitar work, he can become almost hypnotically fluid in a manner that reminds me of Hendrix in ‘The Wind Cries Mary’ mode.  Later, on ‘Still Wanna Be Your Man’, he comes up with a lovely intro that suggests David Gilmour – another avowed influence – and his subsequent solo, delicately shimmering, is a piece of pin drop precision.  And then when they plunge into ‘Bite Back’, with its tumbling riff, he conjures up echoes of Jimi’s playfulness.
There’s plenty of all action stuff going on around this too, with the funky ‘Stop The Messing’ featuring clavinet from Gatza and a heavy groove from Jonathan Murphy on bass and Felix Dehmel on drums, before they expertly take it down in synch to a cooler segment.  They execute some subtle key changes on the jagged ‘Dog Days’ too, while Patlansky’s solo does a great job of serving the song – not a principle guitar honchos always respect.  Cranking out a Led-heavy riff on ‘Bring The World To Its Knees’ they make the song live up to its title, and Patlansky doubles down by getting well and truly tore in on his solo.
‘My Chana’ is becoming a celebrated set closer, and it’s not for the showcasing of the band on a tricksy funk workout, nor for the jazzy scales he throws into the mix.  This is the moment for Patlansky’s personal brand of guitar hocus pocus, standing his beat up old Strat on end and wrenching sounds of it in weird and wonderful ways, even tinkering with its innards via the back of the body.  It’s the sort of thing that can descend into noodling and noise in the wrong hands, but he manages it with control as well as flair, and maintains the focus right to the end.

The whole set, in fact, is a well-designed rollercoaster, with plenty of twists and turns and changes of pace.  And Patlansky, not naturally the most extrovert of characters, engages energetically between songs too.  I might have liked to hear more from his excellent 2014 album Dear Silence Thieves, but I had a damn good night regardless, thank you very much.  Dan Patlansky didn’t just meet my expectations with this show, he exceeded them.

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