A crowd of around 40 braved a cold night in Bristol and avoided the numerous other attractions that the city has to offer to enjoy an evening with two of the rock world’s up-and-coming stars, Dan Byrne and Zac And The New Men.
Dan Byrne – Zac And The New Men
Louisiana, Bristol – 16 November 2023
Words And Photography: Paul Hutchings
It’s been a year of highs for both artists on tonight’s low-key show. It wasn’t that long ago that Dan Byrne was fronting Revival Black at Stonedead, preparing for a full UK tour on the back of the excellent Under The Light album. A year later, that was a memory, and he was back at Stonedead with Myke Grey’s Skin. Now, he’s out front and solo. Such is the turmoil in the world of music.
Byrne is backed by a solid band, most of whom have been with him for a while now, including his show at Steelhouse Festival back in July. The exception is a new drummer, who is playing his first show. You wouldn’t know from the performance. In fact, this is a band that works seamlessly throughout the show, managing the odd bump with ease.
Although Byrne has only just released Beginnings, his first solo EP, he can draw on two albums worth of songs from his former band, and he pulls the up-tempo Take You Out to open the set. What follows is a demonstration of why Dan Byrne is highly rated in the Rock world. There is no doubt the Liverpool lad has a superb voice, and his sincere interactions throughout the hour-long set show a humbleness that isn’t always replicated by some of his more established peers.
Perhaps surprisingly for someone who has played to fields of 5000, there are some nerves on display. He laughs off the introduction to the wrong song, and as the show progresses, he slips into the comfort zone and eases into top gear.
All the new songs from Beginnings are played, and they sound fine. The ballad Easier tugs at the heartstrings, whilst more up-tempo Like Animals kicks in early. If there is one song that Byrne is likely to keep hold of from his Revival Black, it’s Hemispheres. It comes late in the set with an emotional introduction from Byrne. He sings it perfectly, with plenty of the audience joining in.
He finishes the evening with his first single, Death Of Me. It’s a stunning track and the perfect ending to an excellent first step for Dan Byrne in his new world. He should go far.
Zac And The New Men
If it’s been a heady year for Byrne, it’s been a whirlwind for Swansea boys Zac And The New Men. They’ve been here, there, and everywhere over the past 12 months, with deserved plaudits following their debut album Reinvent Me still arriving.
Numerous support slots have seen their exposure across the UK rise, culminating in their participation at the prestigious Music For Youth event at no less than the Royal Albert Hall.
Maybe all the touring is taking its toll, for tonight, the lads are slightly off the boil. They look tired, no, exhausted, out on their feet. They do their best and for the uninitiated, I doubt they would have guessed. But having seen them several times this year, it’s evident that there’s little in the tank tonight. They still put on a decent set and showcase a couple of new songs, all of which sit neatly into the set.
Singer and guitarist Zac Davies can hold a note. He does it with ease despite appearing to be a little congested. He’s got a new coat, and despite the room being a bit warm, he doesn’t take it off until the last song, the bouncing Off To The Moon.
The band are gelling nicely these days, with an onstage telepathy that is developing on each viewing. Guitarist Oli is subdued but still hits the spot. It’s the title track, Reinvent Me, that really highlights the band’s unique style, and it gets a great reception. Aside from the band’s travelling fans, tonight, they are strong enough to get a few followers.
Zac announces halfway through that it’s his birthday, which prompts a round of applause. He later tells a fan that it’s his 19th birthday. All the band are 19. Damn, I feel old.
Despite their tiredness, a 45-minute set is finished with a flurry, and there are smiles all around the room. There’s no worry. These guys are going all the way.