Thursday 22nd August
The Black Heart, Camden
On a night when London unfortunately said adios to one of its most treasured and iconic music venues, The Borderline in Soho, Camden was tangible proof last Thursday evening that there's still life in the old dog yet. Slap bang opposite the tube station, The World's End watering hole, was pivotal to the night's usual vibrant musical fayre, with punters socialising, before spreading their wings to take in a veritable choice of venues including The Underworld, The Jazz Cafe and The Black Heart. Indeed, we also bumped into Nathan James and his Inglorious compadres at the bar, en route to the 2019 Heavy Music Awards at the O2 Forum, Kentish Town!
Anyway, tonight we plumped for Danny Vaughn, across the road at The Black Heart. Vaughn is recognised worldwide for his melodic, powerful and emotional vocals. To lovers of Rock, Danny is best-known for his involvement with Waysted (1985-1987) and famed for his flourishing voice-work with Melodic Rockers Tykeytto. In June, this talented singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and storyteller launched his latest solo album: his first in eleven years. It's the solo album Vaughn always wanted to make and 'Myths, Legends and Lies', released via Townsend Music, is a 14-track album that had to overcome some serious obstacles along the way, but draws together many years of influences and inspiration. Consequently, Danny is currently on a UK tour to coincide with the album's release.
As we made our way up the venue stairs, we were mortified to discover that we had missed Danny's special guests and last year's WRC 'One's To Watch' award winners Collateral. Doh! Need to do our research a bit better next time, although we did see and interview them at Ramblin' Man Fair last month, plus we hope to catch them with Piston at London's Big Red on Saturday 28th September. Sorry boys. Needless to say the smallish venue was rammed by the Vaughn faithful displaying a mix of black 'ML&L' and Tyketto t-shirts. "Well hello there", Danny greeted those assembled as he sat on his chair with his trusty acoustic guitar in hand, whilst placing an enormous music folder onto a very precarious looking music stand. It looked like we were in for a very long set!
Cue Vaughn's distinctive piercing vocal and crisp guitar work on Tyketto's 'Walk On Fire' from their 'Don't Come Easy' album - saw Danny already lighting up the room, even if the stage back lighting was shit as Vaughn so eloquently put it when he introduced 'Is That All There Is' from his last solo album 'The Road Less Travelled'. Fact is that if you are doing a solo shift then your banter has to be good. Needless to say the lighting problem was sorted and Danny's story about rushing to the gig straight from Heathrow duly resulted in the audience's first, but not last, singalong of the night. "You like the love songs?" Vaughn enquired as he launched into 'The Last Ride Of The Sunset Men' - his first song of the night taken from 'ML&L'. The crystal clearness of this gem, however, highlighted disrespectful chatter at the back of the room. A bit of an irony I suppose then that Vaughn's nineteen strong setlist, later included 'Black Crow', another delightful track from 'ML&L', based on the TV series Sons Of Anarchy. Such a shame that SAMCRO weren't present to back Danny up, although, not unexpectedly, the song did get rapturous applause. "Why thank you", said Vaughn, as he almost literally juggled his book of songs with audience requests, one of which was the amusing left field 'I Wanna Get To Know You'.
The set continued to become an unplugged microcosm of Danny's musical career, dipping into previous solo albums, such as 'Traveller' with 'Badlands Rain' and 'Miracle Days', but also 2002's 'Standing Alone' with 'Seasons' plus the title track, with its infectious and almost compulsive singalong chorus. There was no let up in the Vaughn banter though, with Danny on one hand jokingly blaming special guests Collateral for all the technical malfunctions, plus on the other, Vaughn interrupting a story to diplomatically tell those still talking at the back to #STFU. They obviously were all to busy talking, to hear Danny's story earlier that he is in fact descended from Native Americans. Be afraid - be very afraid.
Understandably, 'ML&L' was well represented with 'Seven Bells', 'Point The Way' plus his recent single 'The Shadow Of King John', an Irish 'Munster' of a ditty, based on Vaughn's time living in Limerick. Danny's heroic solitude, was finally broken, as he was joined on stage by his old Gibraltan mucker Craig MacDonald, also on guitar/vocals. Vaughan sure gets about a bit! Once the blue back stage lighting was sorted, they tore into an awesome cover of Del Amitri's 'Roll To Me'. "We don't do this enough" said Vaughan excitedly, before the duo once again excelled with 'The Road Less Travelled's 'Burning Down Inside'. As soon as Craig was there - he was gone - although Danny did play one more track from 'The Road Less Travelled' - 'Lay Your Body Down'.
Ironically, Vaughn reminisced back to another much missed treasured and iconic London venue - The Marquee in '85 - when he performed with Waysted. Danny, accordingly challenging the audience to "Let's go out steaming" as he finished his memorable set, with the crowd once again singing along to another nugget - Waysted's 'Heaven Tonight' from the album 'The Good The Bad The Waysted'. Of course, Tyketto are also obviously a big part of Vaughn's career, so no surprises during his set that he single-handedly polished off classics such as 'Battle Lines' from 'Dig In Deep' and 'The Last Sunset' from 'Strength In Numbers'. However, there was time on our side, as he saved the best for his encore with another amazing vocal on 'Forever Young' from 'Don't Come Easy'. Indeed, nights like this don't come easy. A definite candidate for our WRC 2019 Best Unplugged award!