On a short Irish tour to promote his ‘Retrospective’ CD release, Peter Bruntnell takes to the stage with his band of merry men. Playing with great energy and impressive array of talent, Steve Prior (drums), Dai Godwin (bass) and Dave Little (guitars) provide the perfect backdrop and beat for the excellent songs of this great songwriter.
With a recording output that stretches back to 1995, Peter Bruntnell has produced a body of work of the highest order that stands quite comfortably alongside any of his peers. This show contains many of his favourite songs and he sings with an engagingly sweet voice that wraps the rhythm and melody of the arrangements into a beautifully compelling gift for the enthusiastic crowd on the night.
The band adds texture to the songs and serves the arrangements with a perfect balance of passion and restraint. In addition to his literate, mature and self-realised song writing talents, Peter Bruntnell is also a skilled guitar player and he shapes the tempo of the set with all the experience of a travelled artist.
Americana for Europeans is a tag that does not do him justice, despite his close links with Son Volt, the celebrated roots rock band, led by Jay Farrar. Opening with 25 Reasons, Bruise on the Sky and London Clay, the audience is treated to wonderful melodic hooks and harmonies to savour. Matters of the heart and relationships; emotional and physical, platonic and sexual, are visited and handled in a fashion that channels the lost, yearning voice of the lonesome traveller in search of home.
Have you Seen that Girl again; By the Time my Head gets to Phoenix and Clothes of Winter are all played to an increasingly excited room in which the atmosphere crackles, helped in no small manner by the dextrous solo runs of Dave Little, a fine guitar player who really elevates the songs to exciting levels.
Brought back for two encores, Peter Bruntnell plays an acoustic version of Caroline, which highlights just what a fine singer he is and the band finish a real high with Fear of Lightning, before calling it a night.
Peter Bruntnell remains largely unrecognised in Ireland and given his trail of impressive releases, this remains a mystery to me. I urge any self- respecting music collector to seek him out and to watch for his next dates in our country. He stands as a rare jewel and shines a bright light of talent across an increasingly arid musical landscape. Long may you run Mr Bruntnell…!!
Review and phone photograph by Paul McGee