Danny & The Champions Of The World


“I love camaraderie” asserts Danny George Wilson. Attending a live show with his fantastic band (The Champions of the World, no need to be humble at this point) is enough to prove his point.

The always warm and cosy venue at Northern Quarter’s Gullivers is quite packed, mostly with a nice bunch of folkie-oldies.

The “Sutton soul” men enter the stage bravely, defying all the Northern cheekiness. “All right? All right!!” Without any gap for clapping, they smoothly blend the first couple of songs ‘Consider Me’ and ‘Colonel And The King’. I think they could be playing endlessly, in a perfect Southern sweet harmony.

Harmony between the soothing pedal steel guitar and the skilful roughness on the electric guitar. Harmony between the gentle drums and the progressively insane keys. And then there’s Danny with his cracked guitar. Heart full of soul. Supporter Dean Owens has aptly warned us about the happiness and feel-goodness that’s approaching down from South London. That’s why he sings sad songs – happiness is ridiculously overrated, after all. He encourages, nevertheless, to “go nuts” each time he plays the harmonica. We all agree.

There’s a faint Dylanesque touch in Danny at first, although the Springsteen tone arises soon and it will prevail. It’s rather stuffy by now, totally Southern like tonight. A mere coincidence? Don’t think so. Love is in the air, by the way. Funnily enough, they play and claim that ‘This Is Not A Love Song’, from their latest album What Kind Of Love, released in June 2015, once again under the wing of Loose.

Said new album has been recently awarded at the first edition of the Americana Music Association UK 2016. Triple crown, to be exactly: UK Artist Of The Year, UK Album Of The Year and UK Song Of The Year (‘Clear Water’). Certainly, they’re a timeless winning-formula: a bunch of all-feel-good songs, good musicians, good vibes. That’s it.

All that’s left now is to spread love. Precisely this all-embracing topic is the leit-motiv of their new album (there’s a hint on the “Blue Note like” title). “Every song on the album is a love song of some fashion. There are love songs about friends, ex-friends, wives… All different kinds of love”, explains Danny on the album’s press release. They perform some of those case stories, such as ‘Thinking About My Friend’, ‘Just Be Yourself’ and, of course, the award-winning ‘Clear Water’.

All of them painkillers and perfectly suitable for sing along. Actually, there’s a lot of sing-along tonight. Loads of “ooh-oouh-oh” and even the classic “sha-la-la”. Gospel epic moment with ‘It’ll Be Alright In The End’. If you listen to songs like these, there’s no need to practise yoga anymore. To hell with the mat and the chakra. With me: “Oooh-uooh-uooh…”.

Danny and his Champs know well how to engage the crowd. Drinking beer and telling funny anecdotes –OMG, Danny, are you drinking red wine from a plastic bottle? That’s a crime! There’s a certain sense of camaraderie. “What time is it?”, asks Danny. “Sunday!”, shouts a truly Mancunian fan. It’s Tuesday, really, but it doesn’t matter. It could be Sunday, for all we know.

There’s room for a sneak preview with ‘Never In The Moment’ and old gems, too like ‘Stay True’, ‘Henry The Van’, ‘(Never Stop Building) That Old Space Rocket’, and closing with ‘These Days’ – best music video ever!.

Overall, they live up to the band’s name expectations. They’re flawless and they’re the rightful champions of their soul. Danny continues singing heart warming melodies, smiling, eyes-closed.

“I was glad my father was an eye-smiler. It meant he never gave me a fake smile because it’s impossible to make your eyes twinkle if you aren’t feeling twinkly yourself…” (from ‘Danny and the Champion of the World’, by Roald Dahl).

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Amaia Santana

Good karma brought me here to Manchester, my second home, where you can stay healthy (despite the weather) and young forever, as you can breathe live music in every corner of the city. I do believe in the healing power of music (rock is my life vest) and I'd be so glad to share my passion with you rockers of the world!