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REVIEW: Damian Lewis Screen Star Celebrates a Mellow Musical Hinterland

Mellow Musical Hinterland

by Stephen Dalton | The Times | August 5, 2022

Photo Cred: Twitter @blavikenbutchr

Not many aspiring musicians get to pack a fancy London club to the rafters with hooting fans at their very first gig, but Damian Lewis did arrive at Omeara with a head start in the fame stakes. The Homeland, Billions and Wolf Hall star had busked around London and France in the embryonic stages of his acting career, more recently giving a few low-key private performances for friends. But during lockdown he began writing songs in earnest in collaboration with the east London-based jazz-pop band Kansas Smitty’s. This was a preview of his debut album, set for release early next year.

Backed by a six-piece band full of Kansas Smitty’s regulars, including the alto saxophonist Giacomo Smith and the guitarist Dave Archer, Lewis opened in full-on Elvis Presley pastiche mode with a retro-flavoured rocker, possibly titled She’s My Little One, yelping his hiccupy vibrato vocal over honking harmonica. But his main musical hinterland was more mellow jukebox Americana, taking in coffee-table blues, laidback country-rock and jaunty big-band jazz crooning, with varying degrees of success.

The 51-year-old actor made his trad-leaning tastes plain with a respectful cover of Neil Young’s radiant midlife love ballad Harvest Moon, which wafted along on heart-twanging pedal steel guitar and woozy honky-tonk piano. He earned hipster connoisseur points with his husky-voiced solo piano rendition of Little Trip To Heaven (On The Wings Of Your Love), from the first Tom Waits album, Closing Time.

Only on a handful of numbers did Lewis seem to step outside self-conscious performance mode and stop coming across like an actor playing a musician. That said, he closed on a high with a superb folk-rock track that began as a gently tumbling waltz before building to a crashing, emotionally raw blast. This was the best song of the night, sounding like a lost Jeff Buckley classic in places. More of this passion and swagger could have really lifted this show.

Of course there is a long and ignoble history of actors changing lanes to try out their musical skills in public, only to be rightly laughed off stage. Lewis is no fool; he knows this all too well, which may explain why he peppered this set with self-effacing jokes and humble expressions of gratitude. In fairness, he did not disgrace himself.

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REVIEW: Damian Lewis at Omeara

Passionate Debut

by Neil McCormick | The Telegraph | August 4, 2022

“You! Are at … our … very first! Ever! Gig!”

proclaimed Damian Lewis, as commandingly as if delivering Shakespeare with a few Pinteresque pauses.

He played a double agent in Homeland, an insider trader in Billions and an unusually slender Henry VIII in Wolf Hall. But Lewis’s latest and perhaps most personal role is as a soulful singer-songwriter.

The 51-year-old TV and film star took to the tiny stage at the Omeara club in London carrying an acoustic guitar and backed by a six-piece band of jazzy virtuosos playing flowing, intense, sophisticated songs of love and loss.

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Damian Lewis Performs Songs From Upcoming Debut Album at Omeara London

Intimate Show

by Gingersnap | | August 4, 2022

Damian Lewis unveiled an intimate warm-up performance to a sold-out crowd at London’s Omeara venue on Thursday, August 4, 2022 with special guest Cherise Adams-Burnett. Damian’s opening song was titled Little One which no doubt is in honor of Helen McCrory.  Other song titles included Hole in My Roof, Zaragoza, Soho Tango, Down on the Bowery, Neil Young’s Harvest Moon, Never Judge a Man by His Umbrella, Tom Waits’ Little Trip to Heaven, Wanna Grow Old in Paris, Makin’ Plans, Why, She Comes, and JJ Cale/Eric Clapton’s After Midnight.

He sang in one emotional track: ‘You and me should be together ’til the end. So bye bye, baby, I can’t wait to see your smile again.’ Another track, which he performed near the end of his set, seemed to also relate to losing a partner. Damian sang: ‘She comes as a blackbird, she comes as a fox. She sits at the window, she sings from a rock. She’s the moon in the day and the sun that shines in the dark. She rests in me and she rests in shade. She’s my joy, she’s my pain and she rained on me.’

Damian’s father, his brother William Russell and sister Amanda Yaxley were in the crowd, as well as his children Manon and Gulliver. As RSJrFanWorld shared on Twitter, “Laughter, tears, dancing, seriously fabulous shoes…our redheaded Elvis brought it all tonight.” Our sentiments exactly. Damian’s untitled debut album is due to be released next year.

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