Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10
The orange and bright white lights of the Academy Two capture the essence of many musicians who pass underneath the black curtain and stand in front of what can be a tightly packed crowd, the thin veil of sweat mixing heavily with the heady perfume and the rippling veins of muscles working a guitar or taking the drums on at full speed adding to the drama of the night; Academy Two offers much in the way of music fulfilment.
It is underneath those lights, the edge of the known world upon a snowy bank and illuminated only by what bewitches and the allusion of stories told by the creative creatures of the forest and the stage that the essence of Paul Dunbar, on his own and not surrounded by the band, was framed as a piece of drama and cool in his own right. Not a night for the fairy story or the childish whims of those seeking solace in the arms of C.S. Lewis, no matter how cold the air was outside and the threat of even more to come; this was instead a set of action, the big blockbuster made tangible and one that was overwhelmingly good to be watching.
Whilst the cold outside understandably kept some shaking under their duvets at home or dreaming of nights under the warm stars on foreign beaches, a man who can take audiences on a ride, fuelled by strength and terrific songs made his way up to the Academy from an overnight stay in London after performing at the Underbelly, and proceeded to show exactly what the cold arctic winds and shivering desperate times we find ourselves shrouded in can do in the face of a mountain that cannot be moved.
With a set comprising of songs such as Made My Peace With You, Set Free To Emotion, Southpaw Billy, Open Your Eyes, the unbelievably superb Hands Down and Earth Sky or the Raging Sea all doing their job with charm and grace, the power of the performer was shown once again; regardless of whether with the band who equally deserve the praise showered upon them or on his own underneath the lights of the Academy Two, Paul Dunbar stokes the fire up to boiling point, a great way to start February off and to kick the chill of the month into touch for a while.
Ian D. Hall