Danny Ansell and Monday Nights at MotoFest 2023Review
First of all, credit to Rob Halligan for pulling the music together for Coventry MotoFest 2023 (and previous years of course) & managing it over the two days. I was also thinking, considering the quality of sound, how often now I'm reporting on the excellence of sound engineering, with such high general standards, despite the very considerable challenges of this event (of which more later).
I managed to get down for a while on the Sunday & while as ever with multi day, multi venue events, it's easy to rue those artists I wish I'd been able to see, on this occasion the quality of Monday Nights & Danny Ansell and his band was more than sufficient recompense.
As you'll know from my reviews of their fine single releases, Monday Nights were formed as Covid19 hit & consequently have been a studio band for the greater part of their existence. I enjoyed & appreciated all they shared with us, but I particularly wanted to catch them live for the first time & was intrigued to see how their songs worked live: to be honest, songs such as "Dorian Gray" or "Petrichor" are so subtle & intimately performed that I wasn't sure how they'd work live at all: let alone outside, with the competition from multiple revving engines & with singers trying to deal with the sort of air quality you'd expect from bringing so many combustion engines together and running them.
I need not have worried. As hard as they've been working on creating such interesting and original songs, they've also clearly been rehearsing as hard. The lineup I saw was not precisely that from the recordings, being Jacob Palmer on main vocals & guitar, Ali Hutton on drums, John Glanville on bass, Alixe Whilmshurst on lead guitar/backing vocals and Hannah Kent on keyboards & backing vocals but they gelled together very effectively as if they'd been playing together for much longer than would appear to be the case, and came across as a tight & dynamic live act. The songs were robust enough to make the step up too & the current single, "Dorian Gray" which closed the set revealed anthemic qualities which I hadn't commented on in my review of the studio version.
They have enough of their own songs to build a significant set around them and the good news is that in building up to the release of their debut EP, they will be releasing a couple more of the component tracks as singles in their own right very shortly.
With Danny Ansell, rather a different set of expectations was in my mind beforehand. Again, you'll know from my reviews what a hot streak he is currently on with powerful & original single releases: I was in no doubt at all how well they'd go down live & was looking forwards to experiencing them. Actually there have been too many recently to realistically fit them all into one set, though I was a little disappointed to be honest as to the length of set he was allotted: he had so much to give & the band were really firing when their time to stop came up somewhat unexpectedly.
Danny was telling me beforehand how the addition of Chris Eardley (who I gather also plays with Hednesford based Marquis Drive with whom Danny has been working a lot over the last year or so) on lead guitar has further energised the band (though I couldn't have easily imagined how such a powerful live act could reach yet a new level) and that's Danny all over isn't it? Not resting on laurels or simply replaying his extensive back catalogue is not his way & once on stage, you could see from his glee playing off another guitarist, what he meant. I only wish they'd been able to play longer.
Another eye opener was to learn that "Jericho", fine song as it is, has had repercussions on a scale I'd not picked up on before: apparently this one song has "opened doors" for him on a more national scale & so paved the way for yet more development: so I'm delighted to report it to you.