There is a pleasant mildness in the air as I join those gathered for a night of good music. St Pancras Old Church is a fully-functioning church rather than a converted arts centre, so I can’t help but be amused by the makeshift bar (a table selling various alcoholic beverages) as we walk in. This amusing juxtaposition is extended when the cracking of beer cans echoes around the building.
The space is small and intimate in terms of capacity but the acoustics are nice. The candlelit stage provides a delightful ambience. The warm glow gives tonight’s support act subtle stage lighting under which to present her music.
At first, Irish singer-songwriter Eve Belle appears to be quite nervous, but she quickly lets the music do the talking. Kicking off her set with the gentle nature of ‘Complacent’, she strums the guitar delicately while her voice remains soft yet prominent. Most of her material is of an emotional nature based around relationships. A popular topic for songwriters but one which Belle delivers in her own relatable way. At one point, she jokes that we should be able to work out the meaning behind the next song, which is titled ‘Please Don’t Check Your Messages.’ Her nervousness has certainly dissipated by this point. Furthermore, by the time she’s ending her set with a cover of Dire Straits’ ‘Romeo and Juliet’ along with an original called ‘Harbour’, I’m left wanting more.
The natural reverb of the church serves to carry the strength of both Eve and Dan’s voices to heavenly heights. Of course, this means they have nowhere to hide, but this is no problem for either of them.
With Dan Owen, what you hear on his recordings is what you get live. There’s no clever trickery, just simple honest songwriting with an incredibly strong vocal. This is most clear to me when he performs latest single (and Will 2 Listen’s Track of the Week) ‘Made To Love You’. The song, which he wrote about his friend who was going through a horrible situation in an abusive relationship, is certainly poignant. Nevertheless, Dan is able to soften the edge slightly by saying ‘So I came home, and decided to write a song about it because…I thought he’d like that.’ The audience laughter echoes momentarily.
His whole performance is very strong. He’s performing with an intense energy and passion which leaves a cascade of sweat visible on his face. Once again, he addresses the situation humorously saying “These candles were a good idea weren’t they.”
All of his songs hit us with a great deal of uncompromising enthusiasm, which is helped by the aforementioned reverb of this peaceful venue. He uses this advantage to full effect on ‘Riding On The Storm’ and ‘Moonlight’. This is followed by a never-before-heard original called ‘On Your Feet’. A new song that displays a captivating marching rhythm aided by Owen’s digital kick drum pedal. His guitar and vocal prowess taking care of the rest.
Dan exits the stage, but with a call for more from the audience, he soon emerges with thanks and praise for Eve Belle and for all of us coming down and supporting them. He proceeds to close the night with a fervent rendition of ‘Little Red Rooster’ from his ‘Bad For Me’ EP. I can’t help but sit back, smile and marvel at the live display that Owen delivers. Armed with his guitar, a harmonica and that all-important kick drum pedal, he ignores his inevitable fatigue and ends his set with a delightful energy. A performance that I’m sure Howlin’ Wolf would stand and applaud, much like we are.
By Will Hunt
Both acts display impressive songwriting
Owen has an intoxicating stage presence
Belle complimented Owen’s performance nicely
A good amount of humour
Incredible rendition of Little Red Rooster
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