Danni Nicholls - Norden Arts Centre Maidenhead
It had been nearly a 2 year wait for Danni Nicholls to finally make her debut in Maidenhead as part of the tour promoting the wonderful "The Melted Morning" album and those in the audience were to be rewarded with 2 excellent sets from Bedford's finest. With a 2 piece backing band of Sam Barratt on guitar / violin and Mark Lewis on electric and stand up bass, both providing backing vocals as required - they would seek to recreate both the space and drama on one of 2020's stand out albums.
It was Sam and Mark who would take to the stage first building up the mood for "Frozen", Mark setting up a rhythm by knocking and tapping his stand up bass while Sam would pick out some reverberating bluesy notes. Danni soon joined us and revealed herself to be both in fantastic voice and delighted to once again be playing face to face, It was stunning 5 minute opener that would set the scene for the evening.
Swiftly followed by "Losing It" from the same album, that joy in playing was represented with some full on rocking guitar posing from Danni despite only having her acoustic guitar. There was a beautifully dreamy convergence of the 2 guitars that made "Texas" such a pleasure while "Wild Is The Water" saw the three voices come together with great effect on the chorus.
Danni's excellent new single "Little Fictions" was the first song away from "The Melted Morning", it's a song where she gives everything and then somehow manages to give a little more. The song was truly breathtaking and watching the intensity build before our very eyes was a joy to witness. Even a member staff uncontrollablly uttered "That's great!" as it came to an end!. A trip to Danni's previous studio album came with "Long Road Home" and it was so unusual not to see her playing its familiar riff. The first half of the evening was to close in a classy bluesy style with a take on Randy Newman's "Guilty".
The second part of the show commenced in upbeat style with "Hey There Sunshine", once again supplemented by some great vocals and a glorious little guitar solo. Danni has an almost unique ability of being able to get any audience to sing along and "Back To Memphis" achieved just that, the communal singing lifting the song to another level and as the end of the song approached Danni had a quick nodding glance at each of her cohorts as if to say "That was a job well done" and she later admitted "I had a moment!".
There was a lovely story that accompanied "Between The River & The Railway", with Sam switching from guitar to produce a glorious violin sound , the whole song took on a camp fire feel. For the next song Danni found herself in the unusual position of having no guitar as Sam played her part on "Look Up At The Moon", it was a lovely jazzy interlude replete with a suitablly jazzy guitar break,
"Hopeless Romantic" took us back to "The Melted Morning" once again, Sam's electric guitar solo all but singing out in an attempt to match Danni's superb efforts. For "Ancient Embers" Danni's vocal breaks had the crystal clarity of an opera singer! and also came with a rocking suitar solo. The communal singing that had been a success earlier was once again brought to bear on "Hear Your Voice", where for just a few minutes Maidenhead took on the spirit of a soulful gospel church - it was spiritually uplifting and one of the nights stand out moments in a night that had so many.
The main set was to close with what is definitely a song for our times "A Little Redemption" with Danni almost wishing for the day when its request for more tolerance, peace and love may become a thing of the past - sadly little chance of that happening any time soon.
A couple of encores would close the show, "Travelling Man" created something of a party atmosphere while the curtain was to finally come down with a version of "Good Night Moon" to send us on our way. Good things come to those who wait and this was genuinely worth waiting two years to see.