Monday, 7 June 2010

LIVE REVIEW: Danny Ross @ Mercury Lounge

The last time the music of Danny Ross graced these pages with its multi-skilled employment of wide and varied instrumentation was a feature on singer-songwriters. Well, no man, regardless of musical education or raw ability, can reproduce such endeavours live without some back up. So that explains the band of eight merry men accompanying Mr. Ross as he takes the Mercury Lounge stage for the first time to date.

On record Ross achieves an eclectic blend of soulful rock songs and more emotive, stripped-bare ballads. 'Goes Electric' is the tagline for tonight's show, however, meaning that strutting rockers are the order of the day. Those being the cuts this writer took most to heart from 2009's One Way release, things are looking up right from the word go.

Initially we have new song Fault Lines to get us in the spirit, which achieves the desired effect on a crowd still trying to shake off the rigours of the work day. Cheers and dancing begin to spread, only encouraged by the immediate charge into the schmoove licks of the excellent Country Wind. Through a combination of tight playing, rich melodies, plus the odd request for audience members to take a few steps forward, the night quickly starts to come alive.
Taken from the album One Way, out now - BUY

This being a landmark show for Brooklyn-resident Ross, likely on the way to the midsize NYC venues in the not-too-distant future, he can easily be forgiven a mild air of nervousness during the first few tunes. It's an affectation that rapidly gives way to the soul of his music as the night progresses. Indeed, by the swinging horn opening of Oh, Christine the singer is as caught up in the mood of the song as the very character its lyrics describe. From here, the swagger of the next set highlight, Woman, replete with harmonica interludes and "Woman, I ain't your dial tone" admonishment, kicks the crowd into a higher gear.

The triple horn section receives a deserved nod next, adding verve and colour to the brief nod at ...And The Trumpets Sing and then a rousing full band version of This Is Just A Test, perhaps the song which best showcases the impressively versatile musicianship at play on One Way. By this point Ross has donned a set of shades that are either this summer's key fashion item or the cheapest he could find from a Midtown street vendor at short notice, depending on your perspective. Whatever your take, his ever-growing confidence on stage and the songs steeped in rock history successfully recall icons of the eras he is undoubtedly influenced by.


Ending his brief but entirely convincing set with memorable new track Think About Me and the aforementioned album's celebratory title track, Ross sings "I've seen changes / Turning pages / All this writing on the wall". As open-ended as one could interpret those words, it would be a pleasure to look back and view them in the context of a milestone show for Danny Ross, on the path to wider recognition. 

In terms of going only one way, let's hope the prophecies of British musical sage Yazz are true and it is indeed up. Baby. Sorry.

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You can read more about the creation of One Way on the gent's blog here. August/Sept/Oct 2009 hold the stories behind the songs. You can also make Rupert Murdoch happy and visit Ross on Myspace here. He also plays Rockwood Music Hall on Friday June 18th - Danny, not Rupert, of course - if the above has whet your appetite.

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