January 30, 2016
The Windmill, London
A few days before sweeping the board at the American Music Association UK (AMA UK) awards, Danny and The Champions of the World got together with old friends and new to put on one hell of a show at The Windmill in Brixton for Independent Venue Week.
“It’s an Arts Council-funded fly mask” – Simon Stanley Ward
Ever watched a David Attenborough or Professor Cox documentary and wondered what it would sound like sung by Elvis? Then Simon Stanley Ward is one to watch. He treated the early doors crowd to a rockabilly-infused performance touching on beluga whales, flies and Jeff Goldblum. Backing band, the wryly named Shadows of a Doubt, included Danny and The Champions of The World’s Paul Lush – recently nominated for UK Instrumentalist of the Year at the AMA UK awards- so this is no novelty act. Thoroughly entertaining and informative.
Joana Serrat brought a complete change in tone. Recently signed to Loose and newly arrived from Spain, she held the crowd’s attention with just a guitar, a sweet smile, ethereal vocals and mesmerising songs about Saskatoon and salvation.
“To your friend and mine, George Osborne” – Jeb Loy Nichols
Jeb Loy Nichols was up next, mixing genres with ease – variously bluesy, country, folk and soul, with a few hip-hop and dance references thrown in for good measure. With dry wit, extended jams, political satire and liberal use of the third person, Nichols resembled an extremely talented and versatile version of Flight of The Conchords. Stand-out tracks included Hard Times and Long Live The Loser.
“I want this to be like a proper Phil Collins gig!” – Danny and the Champions of The World
Since the show, Danny and the Champions of the World won three major AMA UK awards: UK song, UK album and UK artist of the year. Their performance showed why they richly deserve such success. Despite a stage barely big enough to hold them all, The Champs played a blinding set – a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, and a lot of irrepressible energy and talent. Highlights included a raucous performance of Every Beat of my Heart, a tender This Is Not A Love Song and, of course, the Americana UK song of the year, Clear Water. Simply spellbinding.