Paul Dunbar & The Black Winter Band. Gig Review, Leaf, Liverpool.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * * *

It is a wonder at times that the old streets of Liverpool’s famous heart aren’t to be seen physically bouncing, going up and down vigorously or even just vibrating slowly, swaying to the beat that comes out of the buildings, the energy of a thousand beaten drums and million guitars singing in unison as the parade of live music, its talent and its breathing cool dominate the city’s dynamic pulse.

Add to that the forceful and vivacious sensation that comes in the form of Paul Dunbar & The Black Winter Band and the might of the city’s music sends shock waves outwards and the rest of the country will start to shudder in the anticipation of another band from nature’s own bountiful musical county.

Leaf has had its share of great gigs in its upstairs cosy insides, the sound has reverberated and dominated the stirring of tea, it has made Bold Street such force of nature even when the sun bows its weary head on the people below. One more gig, that is what it coyly asks, just one more gig, then another and another to keep the good people of Liverpool happy and as Paul Dunbar & The Black Winter Band strode through their set with poise, dedication and the odd moment of sheer magnificence, that coy pleading request of just another gig turns always into a resounding yes.

There is nothing like a musician performing with absolute confidence, the sheer majesty in the conviction that the songs generate and if this had been replicated at the Echo Arena or the Philharmonic Hall, you just know that this particular set would be going down in the annals of the city’s live experiences as one of the all the time greats. That is not to knock the prowess that Leaf has but to celebrate the band’s astonishing hold on the audience and which had it been multiplied in a venue able to hold a couple of thousand it would have been lauded forever with the phrase I was there repeated over and over again.

With the launch of the group’s single Barely Holding On the objective of the evening, it was to the other songs that the interest and physical demands kicked off with earnest endeavour.

In the sensational opener Hands Down Paul Dunbar sent out the message of come join me, come try and stop this beautiful beast from being heard. Following it up with tracks such as Devil in Disguise, Made My Peace With You, Contort Yourself, the song which forms the backbone of the band’s next E.P. Who’s Gonna Love You and Earth Sky or the Raging Sea just made the evening complete and for Paul Dunbar, Liam Atkinson, Tom Cowley and Callum “Wembo” Williams this was just the most gravity pulling night, the most scintillating adventure and it was with a huge amount of pride that the audience gathered were able to leave Leaf with the words I was there firmly ringing in their ears.

A tremendous and utterly compelling night of music, Bold Street certainly seemed to shake as the lights started to die down on another night of discovery.

Ian D. Hall