It’s tempting to think of Dan Patlansky as being a new artist, so unexpectedly did he burst upon the UK blues rock scene at the beginning of 2015. However, closer inspection reveals that Dan’s ascent has been far more measured and he has been honing his skills and his stage presence for over a decade. Nonetheless, 2015 has been something of a banner year for Dan. Launching the spectacular ‘Dear Silence thieves’ at the Borderline club in central London, he played to a packed and awe-struck house and promptly found himself supporting the legendary Joe Satriani on a UK jaunt that bought new meaning to the phrase ‘shock and awe’. I was fortunate enough to see Dan, both at the Borderline and on the aforementioned tour, and it was notable that the jump from packed night club to a house full of partisan Satriani fans did not phase Dan one iota. That huge guitar sound translated perfectly to the larger venues and, flanked by a giant Dan Patlansky logo projected on to the screens, and with a condensed set-list of hard-hitting blues-rock jams, Dan set about bringing his beautifully eclectic take on blues rock to a whole new audience.
All of which brings us back to the Borderline. Arguably to be seen as something of a victory lap, Dan’s return to the Borderline resulted in a sold-out venue as fans jostled to get another opportunity to see the man in the flesh and it is safe to say that Dan did not disappoint. Drawing songs from ‘Dear Silence Thieves’ as well as from the forthcoming ‘Intro-Vertigo’ and the stunning 2012 record ’20 Stones’, the extended set list allowed for a few more of the slower numbers to be bought in alongside the hard-hitting monsters that so staggered the Satriani crowd, and Dan once more held the audience in thrall with his remarkable guitar chops. Only two things slightly mar the evening. The first is that, in the wake of the truly appalling events in Paris, venue security is now super tight. The security themselves were, it has to be said, fantastic – professional, yet courteous and friendly – but the extra checks did slow things down resulting in Aaron Keylock opening to a smaller crowd than might have been expected. The second slight dampener is a small but vocal number of inconsiderate a**holes in the audience who seemed to have totally missed the point of Dan’s latest album title, their inane discussion frequently audible over the quieter parts of the set. Those slight niggles aside, Dan Patlansky delivered a varied and typically energetic set that once again proved inspirational and exultant.
Before we get to Dan, however, we were treated to a short but impressive set from Aaron Keylock, the Oxford-born Prodigy whose recent track, ‘Medicine Man’ has been winning him new fans all over the spectrum. Recently signed to Provogue records (part of the esteemed Mascot group), the young guitarist is a remarkably skilled player and his energy and skill were very much in evidence when he took to the stage. Regrettably opening to a rather smaller crowd than planned, Aaron still plunged into ‘Medicine man’ with furious energy and then proceeded to wow the ever-expanding crowd with tracks like ‘Lovin’ lies’ and the closing slow blues of ‘just one question’. Along the way we got hints of delta blues, stunning slide work and even a brief interpolation of ‘rollin’ and tumblin’’, as Aaron neatly combined a more modern sensibility with traditional blues. Content to let the music do the talking for the most part, Aaron could do well to build his interaction with the crowd, but what stood out throughout the all-too-short set was the remarkable talent and song-writing with which he has made his name. His deft touch and occasional bouts of flying hair suggest an artist still very much in thrall to the art of making music and I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing a great deal of Aaron in 2016 and deservedly so. A short but powerful set, Aaron concluded with the venue close to bursting point and the crowd perfectly prepared for Dan’s sonic assault.
Opening with the brief and exquisitely played ‘drone’, Dan Patlansky kicked his set into gear with the monumental ‘bring the world to its knees’, the blistering opening track for ’20 stones’, an album that now proudly sits in my collection. It’s a hell of an opener, a muscular blues riff that is simply irresistible in the live environment, but just to make sure the adrenalin’s flowing, Dan then tore into the brutal ‘run’, a new cut from the hotly anticipated album ‘Intro-Vertigo’. Certainly one of the heaviest tracks I’ve heard from Dan, it switches between an earth-shattering chorus and quieter verse with a deft, grunge-infused dynamic that recalls Audioslave. Things are then taken down several pegs for a gorgeous rendition of ‘hold on’ (the melody of which still breaks the heart), complete with extended solo break, before another new track appeared in the form of ‘stop the messing’. If these songs are in any way indicative of the quality of the new album, then it would appear that Dan has taken yet another leap forward in terms of song writing skill and we’re in for a rare treat indeed when the new album drops in 2016.
From then on in it was a non-stop assault on ‘Dear silence Thieves’, with tracks like ‘your war’, ‘Fetch your spade’ (sounding particularly gnarly) raising the temperature several notches and the epic ‘Madison Lane’ sounding more beautiful than ever. For many, though, the highlight was the crushing run-through of ‘cracking single ‘backbite’, which is delivered with all the power of an atom bomb and which runs through the venue like the resulting shockwave. Still a near-perfect encapsulation of the rampant energy that Dan’s slender frame struggles to contain, it segued into the guitar-abusing showcase that is ‘My Chana’, a Hendrix-esque instrumental that drew numerous cheers as Dan displayed the sort of enviable dexterity upon the guitar that inevitably results in many a bedroom guitarist simply giving up in despair. It’s the sort of climactic set-closer that would see many artists call it a night, but, clearly mindful of his audience, Dan and his band returned for the instrumental ‘Luca’ and the sonic firestorm that is ‘Daddy’s old gun’, leaving the majority of the audience too exhausted to do anything other than file out in something of a daze, exalted by the music and yet brought to the point of collapse by the intensity of the musical communion between audience and artist. Ultimately it’s impossible not to be engrossed by the clever ebb and flow of the carefully-chosen set-list and Dan’s remarkable excursions upon the fret board and the show flew by in the merest blink of an eye.
Dan Patlansky has proved to be one of the great blues success stories of the year and deservedly so. The amazing ‘dear silence thieves’ is an album that has it all, from pulverising riffs to moments of such exquisite beauty they bring tears to the eyes, and his live show, with its dynamic cut and thrust, encapsulates the best of that album. With such a year behind him and some truly great songs already being previewed in his dynamic live set, there seems no doubt that Dan Patlansky is set to build upon the successes of 2015, but wherever he goes from here, there is no question that this was one hell of a show with which to end the year.
Feel you missed out? (you really should!) However, fret not! Dan Patlansky is back with the amazing King King for a double header that will rip the roof clean off a selection of UK venues:
KING KING with special guest DAN PATLANSKY
TICKETS – 0844 478 0898, www.thegigcartel.com
MANCHESTER ACADEMY THURSDAY 12 MAY
GATESHEAD SAGE FRIDAY 13 MAY
GLASGOW o2 ABC SATURDAY 14 MAY
SHEFFIELD CITY HALL SUNDAY 15 MAY
GLOUCESTER GUILDHALL WEDNESDAY 18 MAY
CRAWLEY HAWTH THURSDAY 19 MAY
SALISBURY CITY HALL FRIDAY 20 MAY
BIRMINGHAM TOWN HALL SATURDAY 21 MAY
Amazing live shots courtesy of John Bull