Francis Dunnery - Band On The Wall, Manchester - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Francis Dunnery - Band On The Wall, Manchester

by Steve Rhodes Rating: Release Date:

Francis Dunnery has forged a massive reputation as a leading guitarist and soloist since his days as the lead singer of 80s Cumbrian rockers It Bites, and takes this to the Band on the Wall. After two sell out concerts at the same venue a year ago, the venue is again buzzing with anticipation - this time for Francis playing from his Fearless solo album, and the prolonged roar that greets the band's entry onto the stage leaves even Francis surprised.

'Made in Space' is a terrific upbeat opener and probably the highlight of the set. It is dominated by perfect harmonisation between Francis and backing singer Dorie Jackson, who intertwine their vocals while facing each other. The reaction of the crowd at its end is immediately excitable and deafening. Francis is helped along by the highly accomplished set of musicians supporting him. The refrained backing of Jamie Bishop's bass and Tony Beard's drums, allows the freedom of David Sanchez's keyboards and Francis' guitar to lead from the front. The interplay between the two is excellent throughout, steering clear of potential self-indulgence, but, surprisingly, Francis' guitar often takes a supporting role, with David's keys taking centre stage, sounding like a lead guitar. This is particularly profound on 'King of the Blues'.

Francis is clearly at home in the venue and is totally enjoying himself, humouring the crowd between songs and encouraging them to sing along. This, added to the fervent atmosphere, has the audience responding enthusiastically to the closing of every song. Perhaps the most apt moment of the gig comes during 'Feel Like Kissing You Again', when Francis brings out a guitar he owned more than 30 years ago that had been lost, only to be returned by one of his fans for him to play possibly the most emotional song of the Fearless album. The audience listens with attentive aplomb and broke out into deranged appreciation at the end.

There is also room for a couple of old It Bites songs. 'Having a Good Day' and 'Leaving Without You' are giving an airing and are again lapped up by the audience. With perhaps only Francis' US solo hit, 'American Life in the Summertime' feeling a little flat, the gig is a triumph. It's easy to see why Francis has such a devoted following. His songs are uplifting and heartfelt, and his free spirit and personality just dominates the stage. He should be much more of a household name than he is outside of his core fanbase, and judging by performances like this it should only be a matter of time.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet
Related Articles