Live reviews

Dan Bern and the IJBC – The Charlotte

Dan Bern hails from the Mid West coast of America and has emerged from the neo folk scene that spawned many excellent acts in the early 90s (such as The Throes, Lisa Loeb). He is presently touring promoting his ‘Fleeting Days’ album.

The tour landed at Leicester’s Charlotte on Friday 9th May. Unfortunately the turn out at the gig was quite poor – only 15-20 people. This in a way turned the event into something special – intimate does not even begin to describe it. Indeed at the end of the gig all band members left the stage and had time to shake the hand of every member of the audience and exchange words with them!

Dan Bern’s music is passionate, energetic and contains well-worded lyrics with a meaning. Whether it is the love of music, and the music of love celebration that is ‘Bye Bye Baby’ or the personal psychology of ‘Crow’, the songs cannot fail to tug and get inside you.

Musical comparisons would include Bob Dylan vocally and lyrically, at times early passionate Springsteen and Elvis Costello in terms of song writing. These are complimentary comparisons – this folk rock music tends to sound traditional and routed in song. When combined with a performance laden with feeling, it really does take some beating.

The band is excellent – tight, together, feeding off each other. Dan Bern takes on the vocals, harmonica and acoustic guitar. Jake Coffin is the drummer with the huge personality, Brian Schey plays bass, Eben Grace handles electric, acoustic and pedal steel guitars, whilst keyboards are taken care of by Will Masisak.

Plenty of high points to the set – I must admit to not knowing the full extent of Dan’s back catalogue, but ‘Chain Around My Neck’, ‘Jane’ and ‘Eva’ stood out for me. A mixture of stomping folk, heartfelt ballads and earthy grooves.

Hopefully Dan Bern will play to lager crowds on the remainder of his tour, which will have culminated at the Borderline in London. His band, and songs, deserve to do so.

Matty P

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