Daniel Martin Moore @ De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-On-Sea 10.12.10

Having heard Daniel Martin Moore's version of Nat King Cole's ‘Smile’ and promptly agreed with Filter Magazine when they described most recent album Dear Companion as “one painfully beautiful record”, it was clear that this performance was never going to let anyone down, but would it encapsulate headline act Billy Bragg's fan-base..?

Dec 10th, 2010 at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-On-Sea / By Frankie Reeves
Daniel Martin Moore It's not easy preceding a legend. This was Kentucky-based folk singer/songwriter Daniel Martin Moore and his cello partner Ben Sollee's strenuous task on Friday in the eerily silent Bexhill-On-Sea, supporting the rowdy romantic socialist Billy Bragg, and frankly they nailed it.

The audience stood surprisingly silently and listened intently from the moment the duo began opening track ‘Someone, Somewhere, Somehow’, and soon enough the seamless vocal harmonies had spines shivering left, right and centre. Initially it would have been easy to mistake Ben for the star, his vocal phrasing and rich, conversational tone frequently reminiscent of the great Paul Simon, and the rhythmic intensity of his cello playing really quite breath-taking. A couple of Daniel's solo tracks in the first half of the set served to confirm this, ‘Needn't Say A Thing’ and ‘That'll Be The Plan’ not translating live as effectively as their recorded counterparts, but as the set progressed it became clear that both musicians held equal weight, with Daniel's fragile performance of the tender ‘Fly-Rock Blues’ and his vocal dynamism in closing number ‘Dear Companion’.

The set highlight was ‘Try’, an achingly emotive track not dissimilar in feel to Paul Simon's ‘Graceland’, with the uplifting refrain “I can't wait to hold your little hand” almost instantly mouthed silently by the entire room (who, it should be said, were still completely engaged).

Having toured previously with The Swell Season and Iron & Wine, which on first discovering Daniel's music makes perfect sense, it seemed a little unorthodox to place Daniel's gentle folk alongside Billy's raucous political poetry, but all became clear between songs when the duo spoke. Aside from a short initial greeting, every selfless sentence thereon elaborated upon the issue of mountain-top removal coal mining, an environmentally devastating affair affecting thousands of acres of local landscape, and many communities, in the duo's home state. Their moral, enviro-political awareness coupled with incredibly evident passion, knowledge and a burning desire to rectify the situation was undoubtedly the reason that Billy invited Daniel to tour with him, and undoubtedly the reason why no audience member seemed to question the pairing.

On returning home, further research highlighted that Ben and Daniel have been donating 100% of all artist royalties from their collaborative album Dear Companion, released in early 2010, to ilovemountains.org, a leading organisation fighting against mountain-top removal. This is a contribution that you can do nothing but whole-heartedly admire, and coupled with an engaging set that firmly progressed from strength to strength, Daniel and Ben are indisputably worth exploring.

Daniel Martin Moore's new album “In The Cool Of The Day” is due for release on January 18th 2O11. Ben Sollee, along with Billy Bragg, is featured on a new album of Joanna Newsom covers “Versions Of Joanna”, available now at versionsofjoanna.com