Regardless of where you watch music, there will always be favourites where you feel most comfortable. The welcome at The Patriot is such that it’s my preferred venue of choice. Of course, the music that you watch is paramount, and the team at this small location in the heart of the Welsh heartlands ensure that there is variation aplenty. Having travelled home from a bruising London encounter with Floridian Death Metal Legends Obituary, a more relaxed evening was the order of the day in the company of Laurence Jones and Dan Byrne.
Laurence Jones – Dan Byrne
The Patriot, Crumlin – 24 February 2023
Words and Photography: Paul Hutchings
I’ve seen Laurence Jones a few times over the past few years. Support slots with Vintage Trouble and Glenn Hughes brought the Liverpudlian blues guitarist to mainstream attention, and he’s been relentlessly building up the momentum over the past few years.
He’s extraordinarily talented, able to make the guitar sing, rock out, or hit you right in the feels. He also possesses one beautifully soulful voice, which fits in neatly with the blues that he dishes out. With a comprehensive catalogue behind him, Jones is out on the road as a power trio promoting his most recent album, Destination Unknown, his first with Marshall Records.
He may only just be in his 30s, but there’s a confident swagger about Jones which is impossible to dislike. His infectious smile, down-to-earth manner, and amenable personality get you beaming as he speaks. It’s, therefore, almost impossible not to join in with the singing, clapping along and general enthusiasm as his 90-minute set progresses.
Jones kicks things off with an extended intro that immediately captures the attention. His playing is fluid, organic, and individual. Despite some extended workouts, he rarely allows you to lose attention or focus, something that often happens with virtuoso guitarists.
It helps that he’s chosen to go for the harder rock approach, allowing the crowd to dance along and for Jones to bring some power riffs to the evening. He dives into What’s It Gonna Be, throws in a couple from Destination Unknown and allows plenty of opportunity for elongated yet captivating lead work.
Of course, it helps when you are supported by a really tight unit and tonight, Jones has some excellent backing. Bassist Jack Alexander Timmis keeps the low end steady with a reliable driving style that anchors everything. At the back, drummer Ash Sheehan brings a wealth of experience. He has a unique style that is captivating to watch, and I find myself watching Sheehan as much as Jones. Sheehan is a dependable pair of hands, a music teacher as well as an experienced pro, with Tony Iommi and Glenn Hughes as just two names on his CV.
“Does anyone like Hendrix,” shouts Jones. Unsurprisingly there is a huge roar before we get an extended Purple Haze, with Sheehan rolling out an entertaining drum solo mid-song. It’s great stuff, really enjoyable and watching musicians of such competence is simply relaxing and inspiring at the same time.
The final song, Stop Moving The House, a song about a hangover, almost brings the roof down. The crowd isn’t the biggest, but the enthusiasm more than makes up for it. Jones brings a fantastic performance to an end with a thank you to Angela Draycott of The Patriot and promises a return sooner rather than later.
It’s a promise you hope he’ll keep. Live music comes in many shapes and forms. It rarely gets much better than this.
It’s been a tumultuous 12 months for Dan Byrne. The singer/songwriter looked on course for a momentous climb with Revival Black last summer after the release of their second album, Under The Light. I had declared that “in Byrne, the band possess a vocalist whose delivery and range are such that he is destined to become a big player in the scene.”
You can read the review here. Two weeks later, he was gone, moving on to other projects.
He returned to The Patriot in support of Kira Mac in November 2022, with Myke Gray on guitar. But now he’s out on his own, just him and his guitar. Luckily, Byrne is well-loved in these parts, and there’s no more supportive crowd than Crumlin.
He plays a six-song set, which includes a couple of Revival Black numbers in Hemispheres and Wide Awake. The latter shows his vulnerability, as he suddenly forgets the opening line and has to ask a fan for help. He manages to overcome this with humour and a smile, and we don’t care. He’s got the voice that melts ice-cold hearts, and his cheeky, Scouse approach is as endearing as Laurence Jones later in the evening.
It takes balls to stand up in front of any crowd, and as Byrne explains, he has no music released yet. The good news is that he’s heading to the studio later this year and promises a return with a full band. This is unsurprisingly met with cheers, and he seems almost overwhelmed with the reception.
A cover of Skynyrd’s Simple Man isn’t going to harm his credentials as the faithful singalong with gusto. It’s the cover of Skin’s Tower Of Strength that goes down best, his relationship with Grey allowing him the freedom to deliver it in style, although it’s Nev McDonald who will always be the top dog on this one in these parts.
But Byrne is no slouch, and he leaves the stage with a job well done, huge applause and a future that will hopefully once again regain that upwards trajectory.