Damian Wilson - LIVE: Tamesis Dock, London 2013

To Beard Or Not To Beard Tour
August 28 (20:25-22:55)
Capacity 100

Threshold front-man Damian Wilson isn't on tour until late September. But in order to warm up for that, before a string of dates with Maiden United in Germany and Holland, he put a couple of free acoustic sessions in the diary for fans who were local, and anyone who happened to be in the pub that night.

An hour or so was probably therefore most people's reasonable expectation of his set, but as with most things Damian does, things got unexpectedly bigger than that. First, his brother Paul Wilson was invited along to guest on vocals. Then long-time collaborator Andrew Holdsworth volunteered at the last minute to come and add some piano to proceedings. Together, without microphones or a PA, the trio played for two-and-a-half hours, bantering all the while with Arena's Clive Nolan, who was part of the small crowd, and inciting as many sing-a-longs as possible in the lower room of floating bar The Tamesis Dock on Albert Embankment.

Damian could probably have bellowed loud enough to fill the room and overcome any talking from other bar patrons without too much trouble, but he didn't. Instead he sang normally, forcing the crowd to keep a bit quieter in order to hear everything. It proved a good tactic, as it meant his un-amplified guitar, voice, Paul's voice, and Andrew's piano were always clear without being overpowering.

The first half of the set was largely familiar territory. Tracks from Damian's solo albums, most of which are showcased on his double best of I Thought The World Was Listening, with regular covers like The Evil That Men Do by Iron Maiden and Soldier by Damian's other band Headspace, and a rather unexpected rendition of Depeche Mode's Somebody, brilliant re-arranged for solo acoustic guitar and vocals.

Then as the set went on, things became more spontaneous, often with Damian starting to sing and expecting Holdsworth to recognise the song and join in (which worked most of the time). Covers of Otis Redding's (Sittin' On) The Dock of The Bay and Hard To Handle ensued, along with part of (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones and traditional folk number Mingulay Boat Song, where Damian was joined by his father Mike and brothers Paul and Justin.

Damian would go on to proclaim that the end of the night was coming three times during and after the unrehearsed covers, before playing at least another two songs each time, eventually finishing with a few more from his solo albums, and an extended crowd sing-along on Chuck Berry's Johnny B. Goode to close.

Tonight's was the kind of off-the-cuff, welcoming performance that served the dual purpose of giving fans something more up close and personal than a normal gig, and hooking in a few new listeners. Bar patrons were stopping to watch the show, instead of running for the furthest corner of the boat to escape the noise, as can often be the case with bands in bars, and of course Damian and Andrew especially were as flawless as always.

Damian's solo tour starts properly back in London at the 12 Bar Club in late September after one more warm-up session in Mullion, and runs throughout October into early November taking in several UK shows as well as Belgium and Holland. With low ticket prices every night, these shows are rare chances to see one of the finest singers in history ply his trade in intimate settings.

“ as the set went on, things became more spontaneous ”

Setlist: Soldier / When I Leave This Land / Please Don't Leave Me 'til I Leave You / Moment of Your Doubt / Naked / Part of Me / You Hurt Me Inside / Just The Way It Goes / Somebody / Commune / The Evil That Men Do / Quietly Spoken / Adam's Child / (What's So Funny 'bout) Peace, Love And Understanding / Mansion / Wedding Song / Homegrown / Mingulay Boat Song / (Sittin' On) The Dock of The Bay / Hard To Handle / (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction / I Want To Build My World / Nothing Without You / Disciple / Johnny B. Goode

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2013, Acoustic/Folk, Gigs,

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