Daniel Martin Moore @ Birmingham Town Hall 10.03.11

We saw Daniel Martin Moore performing, with celloist Ben Sollee, his understated folk music in December, supporting acclaimed punk-poet Billy Bragg, and we were swayed to say the least. In Birmingham, supporting cult folk heroes Iron & Wine, Daniel treats us to a very different experience – a new four-piece band of talented multi-instrumentalists who provide the authentic folk arrangements that many of the tracks require.

Mar 10th, 2011 at Birmingham Town Hall / By Frankie Reeves
Daniel Martin Moore @ Birmingham Town Hall 10.03.11 Daniel's new album In The Cool Of The Day is a fitting tribute to the spiritual songs that shaped his childhood. The tracks are presented with Daniel's signature unpretentious folk sentiments – gentle pianos and soothing violins are ever-present, occasionally among other complimentary instrumental textures, but never detract from the artist's simple acoustic guitar parts and soft, speech-quality vocal tone.

On this tour each track is played relatively true to its recorded counterpart, but subtly energised by an electric guitar replacing the violin and electric bass substituting for the usual upright.

Daniel opened the set with the compassionate a cappella intro to new album opener ‘All Ye Tenderhearted’, which immediately roused the room's attention, and the track developed into an elongated affectionate ballad that lulled and engaged us in equal measure. The set then sailed through old and new material, the band providing his past offerings with a new lease of life, and supplying tracks from the new album with the instrumental dynamics they deserved. Although many songs like ‘That'll Be The Plan’ and ‘Needn't Say A Thing’ benefited from the extra instrumental textures, it was the stripped down piano-and-vocal delicacy of new album title track ‘In The Cool Of The Day’ that received the most enthusiastic audience reaction, a mesmerising display of ethereality and endearment. ‘Flyrock Blues’, the only track in the set that Daniel performed solo, was equally captivating, a pure acoustic folk number highlighting the singer's ever-present concerns about mountain-top removal coal mining, a major cultural and environmental issue in Daniel's home state of Kentucky. The song is direct in its lyricism and uncomplicated in structure, which aids in allowing one to empathise effortlessly with the cause that is evidently so close to Daniel's heart.

Although at times one almost wished for more of these intimate musical moments that Daniel and Ben offered almost consistently on the December tour, the full band experience certainly did not suffer as a result. The two sets were almost incomparable, so different did the tracks sound with the added instrumentation, and thus stand by themselves as two equally enjoyable half-hours.

Speaking to Daniel afterwards about his future plans, he expressed that after this UK tour he would be back on the road promoting the album in the US before taking a good chunk of time out to concentrate on a new album and some other intriguing projects. We're going to stay tuned, and look forward to his return.