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Twenty Twenty - ULU, London, 24/2/2010

  by Anthony Dhanendran

published: 5 / 3 / 2010

Twenty Twenty - ULU, London, 24/2/2010


Anthony Dhanendran watches Danny and the Champions of the World, the new band of former Grand Drive front man Danny George Wilson, put on an exuberant set of alt. country at the ULU in London

Danny and the Champions of the World don't do things by halves. In the first song there are eight people on stage, seven of whom are singing the harmonies. It's wistful and slow alt-country music, coming to London from the heart of America via parts of Britain. At least, it's wistful and slow until the drums kick in. The Danny of the name of the band is Danny George Wilson, formerly of British Americana enthusiasts Grand Drive. His new songs are less overtly American in the sense of being pure country, although they still drawing their influences from across the pond, with the net cast wider to take in other forms of music from over there, and some from over here. The second song they play, for instance, is part Byrds and part Blur to begin with but morphs into something containing bits of the La's. In the second verse Wilson and his country-looking bearded guitarist come together to sing at the microphone centre stage to make a very American picture. The songs tonight - the band are playing in support of the similarly countrified Irishman Fionn Regan, for whom some of them also double as a backing band - draw their influences from old-timey country music and elsewhere - at times Wilson sounds like Bob Dylan, while at others, he bellows like an old-school soul shouter. At one point there's a cover of the Temptations' 'My Girl', retimed to fit a more languid beat and refitted with a stomping outro that segues into something quite different. With his big sideburns, pomaded hair and checked shirt, Wilson looks a little like a 1930s farmboy, and the rest of the band continue the good-ole-boy theme, more or less, although one of the guitarists sports a rather fetching outfit in the mode of Elvis Presley's '68 comeback special. The Champions' set closes with 'Follow the River', a thumping tune that begins with one of the guitarists banging two tambourines together over his head, which gives the song a curiously revivalist, evangelical feel that's slightly at odds with the 1950s bubblegum beat being bashed out on the drums. Wilson at the front channels Frankie Valli and Gene Vincent to belt out the lyrics. As it's a support set there's no encore but the band have drawn a large crowd who aren't left disappointed.

Picture Gallery:-
Twenty Twenty - ULU, London, 24/2/2010

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