Review and photo by Dawn
Dan Donnelly should be offered as an example to all one trick pony singer-songwriters who think that closing their eyes and singing earnestly whilst clutching an acoustic guitar is the way to win over an audience.
Dan, too, has a guitar, but he knows how to use it – and with a little help from a loop pedal, his one instrument effortlessly creates a cacophony of sounds and rhythms to accompany his distinctive and powerful voice.
From the moment he takes to the stage and begins to drum on his guitar, he is nothing short of mesmerising. His voice alone, with touches of fellow Belfast boy Duke Special, is enchanting while his self deprecating comments and amusing facial expressions during difficult guitar parts help to win over the audience. His songs are drawn from experience, ranging from lovely odes to his wife and thoughts on his upcoming fatherhood to the brilliantly blunt and cutting Friends Like You, with a wish to break even in his chosen career somewhere in the middle.
By the time he segues seamlessly from his own song, Shine, into Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain - creating layer upon layer of the famous melody as his fingers flash up and down his guitar - the crowd are truly spellbound. He ends with his cover of Plastic Jesus, the closing track on his Country and Northern album, and the perfect finale to his set – leaving us with the overriding impression that Dan is a man making great music whilst having fun and not taking himself too seriously.