Dan Patlansky | O2 Academy Islington 2 | 2 May 2017
(Photo credit: Richard Bolwell)
Want to improve as a guitarist? “Push the envelope all the time and try to learn something new every time you play,” suggests Dan Patlansky.
The blues-rock musician, and one of the genre’s brightest stars, certainly doesn’t need to heed his own advice. But, even after 20 years of honing his craft, he clearly seems to be. So much so that every time he returns to the UK, the South African’s playing is even more impressive than before – bolder, braver, better.
And that’s equally true of his latest visit. Even though, or perhaps because, this time he’s joined by three hired guns from Germany rather than his usual backing band, Patlansky is at his impassioned best. Seemingly even more willing to improvise and take chances, he seems just as thrilled to be in the O2 Academy Islington as the fans who’ve squeezed into the sold-out venue to see and hear him interpret songs from his three most recent albums – and reveal some of those new things he’s learnt.
They don’t leave disappointed. Precise renditions of ‘Sonnova Faith’, ‘Backbite’, and ‘Fetch Your Spade’ reach out to those pulled in by Patlansky’s radio hits. The epic ‘Bring The World To Its Knees’ and an adventurous ‘Daddy’s Old Gun’ showcase the singer-guitarist’s watershed album, 2011’s ‘20 Stones’, while teasing his ability to flesh out studio recordings in the live arena.
The slow blues of ‘Still Wanna Be Your Man’ and the swampy, primordial groove of ‘Heartbeat’, both from 2016’s ‘Introvertigo’, emphasise the diversity of his sonic palette and songwriting chops. The tender ‘Bet On Me’ and hard rocking ‘Stop The Messin’’ reinforce the growing power and range of his vocals.
And the far-reaching instrumentals that bookend the main set, nominally named ‘Drone’ and ‘My Chana’, are the ultimate showcase for his towering improvisational and musical talents. Perhaps it’s the new band, perhaps it’s his constant evolution as a player, perhaps it’s both, but the two pieces sound more adventurous than before, exploring contrasts – loud and soft, fast and slow, tender and brutal – all the while building and releasing tension without sacrificing melody or cohesion.
Patlansky, who keeps finding new ways of expressing himself and coercing different emotions out of his Fender Strat, is pushing not just the envelope but himself.
DAN PATLANSKY MAY 2017 UK TOUR
WITH SPECIAL GUEST ASH WILSON