Categories Album Mission Creep Music Review UK Tour 2024

Damian Lewis Makes a Welcome Return to Sussex

“An absolute belting set of variety, strong songwriting and class musicianship, and a sea of grinning faces”

by Adrian Stonley | Brighton and Hove News | March 11, 2024

Photo Cred: Adrian Stonley

DAMIAN LEWIS – TRADING BOUNDARIES, SHEFFIELD GREEN 8.3.24

With Brighton & Hove News having reviewed Damian Lewis in Hove, back in November 2023 (Review HERE) on the first leg of his tour to support the release of his first album, ‘Mission Creep’, it was interesting to see how he fared back in the live environment a few months further down the line and at the beginning of the second leg of his tour. Would it be more of the same or would we get any variation in the songs?

The answer to that was a clear…Yes, there would be variety, and in many ways this was almost a different show entirely.

However, before we get into the set changes it is clear that this is a second stage of the ‘Mission Creep’ album tour and unsurprisingly, with this album being the only one currently available for the fans to listen to, it still held sway with ten of the thirteen album tracks being played tonight.

One key change was that with the exception of Neil Young’s ‘Harvest Moon’ there were no other cover songs played tonight, and it was clear that Damian has been spending the last few months getting more new material written and stage worthy and this meant that we were treated to eight new songs, which are likely to feature on the second album when released later this year, though at present there is no release date mooted.

Photo Cred: Adrian Stonley

With a sold-out Trading Boundaries in the heart of Sussex in good, vibrant and buoyant mood, it was clear that from the moment he stepped out onto the stage that Damian had the entire audience eating out of his hand and hanging on each note played and every lyric sung. There was always a question hanging as to whether they had come to see Damian Lewis the musician, or Damian Lewis the actor, but by the end of the show it was absolutely clear that Damian, the musician held sway.

For those unfamiliar with Damian’s music he has the ability to craft well thought out and catchy tunes. He is clearly a singer songwriter in his own right and from the music on display tonight it is also clear that he has no intention of pin-holing himself and the tunes played covered a wide area of musicality from soft rock, through Americana, jazz, blues and even allowing the band to get a little funky. Quite clearly there was something here for everyone.

The set opened with the opening couple of numbers from the ‘Mission Creep’ album with ‘Down On The Bowery’ providing a gentle acoustic start to proceedings. It’s a soft laid back tune that worked well in the environment of Trading Boundaries with its almost late night sleepy feel. This was followed by ‘Soho Tango’, a similarly veined gentle piece of work. But this is a band that also are here to rock as well and with Damian swapping his acoustic guitar for an electric it was clearly time to move the tempo up a bit, turn the volume dial up and show what the band could do with new number ‘She’s Makin’ Me Change The Way That I Feel’.

‘Love Bomb’ is another new tune and gave lead guitarist David Archer an opportunity to show what he can do with a few bent strings and some impressive pedal effects creating a twisted echoing sound.

Photo Cred: Adrian Stonley

The ‘Mission Creep’ album provides an interesting eclectic mix of songs, which would not go amiss in a smoky old blues or jazz club. These are songs for late at night and this is an album for sitting back in the dark letting the music flow over you with a glass of bourbon in your hand. In the live environment they take on a new life and the laid back feel generates more of a shuffle feel showing that there is more to these songs that meets the eye.

‘Harvest Moon’, the Neil Young classic is a case in particular where Damian and the band take the melody to another place, wringing every drop of emotion out of it, and clearly making it his own. The lyric fits perfectly with his own songs, particularly where he has paid tribute to his ex-wife, the actress Helen McCrory who passed away in 2021. The lyric could so easily have been written for her and as he sang the lines “Because I’m still in love with you, I wanna see you dance again, Because I’m still in love with you, On this “harvest moon” you could almost hear Damian putting that personal twist into the delivery.

There is no escaping the fact that Damian is more than happy to wear his musical colours on his sleeve, with a number of the songs, particularly some of the newer more rocked up tunes bearing a definite Clapton, J.J. Cale feel. ‘Makin’ Plans’ in particular had an old blues rock feel with Joe Webb on keys and organ providing a suitably wonderful honky-tonk juke joint feel.

Where the first half of the set predominantly features material from the ‘Mission Creep’ album, the second half leans more towards the newer material with numbers such as ‘Traffic Jam’, ‘Pentonville Prison’ and ‘Grey At The Temple’ coming to the fore and enabling him to play around with the audience.

‘Traffic Jam’ itself bears a gentle nod to David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ as he slips a couple of lines into his own number, albeit with changed lyric. ‘Pentonville Prison’ enabled the band to show off their funkier side and featured some beautiful backing tones from backing vocalist Amelie, who had also played an impressive warm up set earlier that evening.

Photo Cred: Adrian Stonley

The main set finished with ‘She Comes’. A delight of a tune which enabled the band to stretch themselves out and show the extent of their musicianship and as the song expanded so the musical relationships on stage developed with the band playing off each other.

The audience were ecstatic and were treated to three songs for the encore. Again, these were all new numbers and though unknown were received as old friends. ‘A Man Named Sal’ was a raucous almost ‘new wave’ styled song which enabled Damian to really open up vocally and show another side of his vocal ability.

The show ended with another new song, ‘Naughty’, which saw additional interplay with Damian and Amelie twisting away as the audience up on their feet clapped along and with a simple repetitive chorus rapidly turned it into a rousing singalong.

That was that. Ninety minutes had flown by. An absolute belting set of variety, strong songwriting and class musicianship, and a sea of grinning faces as the audience left the warm confines and good feelings to step out into the cool chill of the night.

There have been occasions where other actors have stepped up into the musical limelight and it hasn’t worked. So should Damian stick to his day job. Absolutely not!!! This is an artist who can more than hold his own as a song-writer and musical performer. Expect to hear more….and soon.

Photo Cred: Adrian Stonley

Damian Lewis:
Damian Lewis – lead vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Joe Webb – keyboard
David Archer – guitar
Will Cleasby – drums
Amelie – backing vocals

Damian Lewis setlist:
‘Down On The Bowery’ (from 2023 ‘Mission Creep’ album)
‘Soho Tango’ (from 2023 ‘Mission Creep’ album)
‘She Makin’ Me Change’ (unreleased)
‘Hole In My Roof’ (from 2023 ‘Mission Creep’ album)
‘Love Bomb’ (unreleased)
‘My Little One’ (from 2023 ‘Mission Creep’ album)
‘Harvest Moon’ (Neil Young cover) (from 2023 ‘Mission Creep’ album)
‘Zaragoza’ (from 2023 ‘Mission Creep’ album)
‘Never Judge A Man By His Umbrella’ (from 2023 ‘Mission Creep’ album)
‘Makin Plans’ (from 2023 ‘Mission Creep’ album)
‘Wanna Grow Old In Paris’ (from 2023 ‘Mission Creep’ album)
‘Traffic Jam’ (unreleased)
‘Pentonville Prison’ (unreleased)
‘Grey At The Temple’ (unreleased)
‘She Comes’ (from 2023 ‘Mission Creep’ album)
Encore:
‘Suck My Blood’ (unreleased)
‘A Man Named Sal’ (unreleased)
‘Naughty’ (unreleased)

Read the rest of the original article at Brighton and Hove News