Dan Patlansky + Gorilla Riot
Thursday 29th November 2018
O2 Academy Islington, London
The latest leg of South African Blues Rock guitarist Dan Patlansky's UK tour last Thursday at London's O2 Academy Islington, saw the return of German Tom Gatza on keys plus the addition of Tom Swann on bass and Jay Bone on drums. Supported by Gorilla Riot, Patlansky had not only released his new album 'Perfection Kills' earlier this year but had also recently released his new EP 'Live 2018'.
Casting our minds back to a beautiful Summer Saturday at Ramblin' Man Fair on the last day of June this year, on that sunny day we discovered possibly the find of the Festival gracing the Rising Stage. We also had the pleasure of interviewing both guitarist Liam Henry and bass guitarist James 'Degsy' Degnen from Gorilla Riot in the Press Area after that Ramblin' Man set - their enthusiasm still as palpable as their set itself. Fast forward five months later and we once again caught up with this five piece bundle of excitement from Manchester, which we described at the time, reminiscent of early G 'n' R although with a strong vein of Blues flowing through them. Deservedly chosen to support Dan on this tour, they opened with 'Kerosene Clown' from their 2016 EP 'Six Shots Down', setting out their Southern Rock stall with three guitars (SG and two Les Paul's) namely Liam (also vocals), Arjun Bhishma (lead vocals) and Charly T. (vocals) repectively, plus Degsy and David Thomas on drums. The golden riff of 'Ain't No Use Being Good' from their eponymous first album was also well received by a growing and appreciative audience before the bandana wearing frontman Bhishma enquired "how's everyone doing?" before they launched into 'Hungry Like The Wolf' another from 'Six Shots Down' with its powerful big Rock 'n' Roll sound complemented by some great guitar harmonies and a cool vocal by Bhishma - a track that was really gagging for a 'Freebird'esque guitar outro!
In fact, these guys with their baseball caps, tattoos, big hair (except for Thomas) and great song construction, looked and sounded more American than Americans, sticking with 'Six Shots Down' as they jammed out on 'Last Hymn', with the captivated Academy audience continuing to swell. With a beer in one hand, Arjun's plug for their merch stand, led us to their first single from their latest EP 'American Honey Vol 1'. On this evidence it was easy to see why ‘Bad Son’ got critical acclaim in the music press with both a great guitar intro and solo, before the band duly thanked Patlansky - "Dan's been really good to us", as they ended with more of their hard rocking to groove Rock with hypnotic beats winning formula on 'Dirty', another chord change, riff rocker, from their eponymous first album, with AC/DC's 'Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be' thrown in for good measure - which unsurprisingly saw everyone's hands raised and clapping in the air and demanding "more". "Thank you London - you have been fuckin' awesome" the band rightly retorted as they left the stage. All in all a short six song set. But don't be misled, this was certainly a case of quality not quantity. Step forward Manchester's up and coming answer to Lynyrd Skynyrd!
We also recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Patlansky in advance of his current tour - the last time we actually saw him playing live being at London's The Borderline in March this year, not only a month after Dan brought out 'Perfection Kills', but also on a night when we also presented him with our 2017 WRC 'Best Blues Rock Performance' award, ironically in respect of his gig at the smaller O2 Academy Islington venue in May that year. We summed up that awesome Borderline performance with "As for Patlansky - he has it all and is not afraid to show it. Perfection killed tonight." No pressure then Dan in advance of tonight's gig - with Patlansky and Gatza being the only common denominators between that gig and tonight. In fact, Tom was relaxing,chatting to some friends in front of me during the interval, before he jumped back up on to the stage and returned moments later with a big cheer from the crowd for Swann, Boe and of course Patlansky, as they opened with 'Love City' from his 2009 album 'Move My Soul', immediate proof that not only Dan was balancing the old and the new as he intimated in his interview, but that he also meant business right from the word go with this amazing guitar intro, before it deliciously melded into Patlansky's raspy vocals on 'Perfection Kills'/'Live 2018's 'Johnny' - all about a troubled childhood.
"Thank you so much" Dan greeted the applause of a now full house. In fact, as he again went to his back catalogue and introduced the "real Blues" of 'Taking Chances' from 'Dear Silence Thieves', it was so pleasing to see such a young demographic in the Academy crowd tonight, Patlansky appropriately grimacing as he knocked out another stand out solo on his amazing new "Partsocaster", yes you've guessed it, made up of various parts of various Stratocasters, but still a beast of a guitar that replaced his treasured but knackered '62 Strat. Talking about parts, as Dan asked everyone to put their hands together, no Patlansky gig would be complete without Gatza's keys on 'Introvertigo's 'Heartbeat' - cue Tom's awesome stand up solo with even rockin' accompaniment from the gathered paparazzi in the pit! It was indeed very poignant when Dan introduced 'Perfection Kills' 'Never Long Enough' at The Borderline, and it was still just as moving tonight, the fact that he can't have it both ways, being on the road with the family business, but with his family back home. Needless to say both the execution of Gatza's exquisite keys intro and Patlansky''s fret work, were a fitting tribute to Dan's wife and boys back in Pretoria. After introducing new boy Tom, Dan explained that the next song 'Hold On' from 'Dear Silence Thieves' was instrumental in opening those European Blues Rock doors for Patlansky, and it was easy to see why, despite the chatter from the back (#STFU), Dan's quiet vocal intro and delicate guitar solo built beautifully into a rousing crescendo with Bone outstanding on drums.
The waistcoat wearing Patlansky did not hold back on getting across both his musical and political message on his next song, the heavy Rock and, fuzzy guitar of his new single 'Too Far Gone', an environmental protest song, which was on Planet Rock's playlist, taken from his new EP 'Live 2018', before Dan introduced the other new boy Jay and then shared the story behind 'Judge A Man' and how his love of the Blues was the perfect vehicle to vent his spleen about an ex-girlfriend on this track from 'Perfection Kills', a number, as expected, that Patlansky totally nailed the meaning of the Blues to his trusty Strativarius. Dan then went back for the first time to his 2012 album '20 Stones' and 'Bring The World To Its Knees' a number that he readily acknowledges that resulted in his transformation from Classic Blues to Blues Rock. Well whatever the genre, the band not only totally came together on its classic riff but also rocked out as well! Most probably the most popular track from 'Introvertigo', the storming politically preaching single 'Sonnova Faith' was performed in total contrast to the slow Blues of 'Big Things Going Down', another from 'Move My Soul', Patlansky admitting that this was his "favourite point" of the evening, explaining the track's recent resurgence was thanks to an Eastern European YouTuber, despite possible copyright issues!
Cries of "yeah" rang out in the audience due to Patlansky's wonderful intro, as he proceeded to grimace once again, as his well publicised Floyd influence came to the fore, think Gilmour meets the Blues. And was it just me, but during Patlansky's guitar and vocal, did I detect a shade of 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'? Awesome! A final deserved plug for his 'Live EP' plus his merch stand, ended with Dan saying that he would leave us with with two songs, the pounding, up-tempo and darn right catchy ‘Backbite’ from 'Dear Silence Thieves' and 'My Chana', an opportunity for solos from Swann, the standing Gatza and Bone, before Patlansky performed his usual party trick by taking his guitar strap off and cradling and playing his guitar with one hand. No chimes of Big Ben this time, although he still managed to grab his strings and play at the same time! How did he do that? An explosive fourteen song set came to end with a encore of his very first single from 'Perfection Kills' - 'Dog Day' - a social commentary about state of the world versus individual lives. With another nine bigger venue dates sold out on this latest UK tour and an ever growing spine of a strong back catalogue under his belt - Dan Patlansky is on a roll. Perfection Killed once again tonight.
AJ (photos courtesy of Robert Sutton)