Danni Nicholls Live at Slide Record Shop, Bedford for Record Store Day 2018, April 21st

I’ve been a fan of Record Store Day for a few years now, both for the interesting releases that come out each year and for the live performances that record shops up and down the country feature. I usually go to David’s Music in Letchworth, but as soon as I heard that Danni Nicholls was playing live at Slide Record Shop in Bedford I knew that would be my destination for Record Store Day 2018. You only have to read my review of when Danni played at The Borderline with Angaleena Presley last year to see what an impression she made on me. That was almost a year ago, her most recent album Mockingbird Lane has been played many times since, to say the least.

My son Lucas gave up his Saturday football training to accompany me, and it was thanks to a friendly chap in Bedford town centre that I found Slide, as he saw me attempting to use Google Maps to locate the shop, unsuccessfully, and gave me directions. We turned up at 11.30am and Danni wasn’t due to appear until 2pm, so on seeing copies of her debut album A Little Redemption and her 2017 live album, THE VINTAGE TV RECORDINGS – yes, all in capital letters, I grabbed them. I’d wanted both, especially the live album as I adore live recordings, but for some reason I hadn’t bought them yet. I’m not sure why, I think I was subconsciously waiting for an occasion such as this, where there is a possibility of getting them signed, which is a big thing for me. I actually read online that that First Cuckoo of Spring, from A Little Redemption, was featured in the first episode of season 7 of Sons of Anarchy. That just happens to be one of my top 10 favourite TV shows of all time and one that I’m currently rewatching. I’m only on season 3, so I may have to jump ahead to check that out. I also bought the Belly Record Store Day release, a 4 track 10-inch blue splatter vinyl record, two tracks from upcoming album DOVE and two unreleased tracks. The first Belly single to be released in 20 years is a pretty big thing for all us Belly fans. I should really get around to playing it sometime soon!

Belly - Feel Record Store Day 2018

Fast forward to 1.45pm and we were back in Slide after our customary trip to Subway. We made our way from the back to the front of the shop, or more I guided Lucas through, insisting that we needed to be at the front. Well, if you are going to see a live performance like this you have to do it properly, not from the back of the shop where many heads can obscure your view and passers-by can increase noise pollution. We were actually stood right near Danni, but I didn’t want to say hello and possibly interfere with her pre-performance preparation (alliteration not intended but delightedly happened upon) and ruin Record Store Day in Bedford. I’m sure she could have handled it, but I think afterwards is a better time to say hi.

Danni Nicholls Live at Slide Records, Bedford for Record Store Day 2018, April 21st

A few minutes later Danni took to the stage. Well, I day stage, but it was actually the area next to the counter that we were all looking at, so rather an area than a stage. It was quite surreal to see people still queuing to buy records while Danni kicked off with Long Road Home – welcome to record shop performances. She wasn’t fazed though, and the acoustics were really good, so it sounded as fantastic as I’d hoped, and I proudly sung along. Don’t worry, I wasn’t belting it out like some crazy karaoke person, but when a song you know and love is being performed live, you can’t help but sing along under your breath. I need to go back to my pre-performance comment, as I’m not sure Danni needs much preparation, seeming so at ease that you know watching her, that she was made to make music, and that to play her music for people is her raison d’être.

Danni Nicholls Live at Slide Records, Bedford for Record Store Day 2018, April 21st

We got treated to a couple of new songs, I think. I know there was definitely 1 new song, and Lucas says 2 and I think he might be right. Danni is set to jet off to Nashville soon to record her 3rd album, and you can be part of that over at Pledge Music, for the next week at the time of writing anyway. You absolutely should do that by the way, as based on her career so far, and the new songs I’ve heard both last Saturday and elsewhere, it’s to be in the running for album of the year, no doubt. Earlier in the day Lucas had bought the Beano to read in case he was bored. That’s no reflection on the music, he’s just a 9 year old boy with an attention span befitting of his age. Halfway through Danni’s set I handed him said comic, in case he wanted it, but he refused, instead choosing to watch and listen to Danni play. That’s my boy. Being in a record shop in her home town, it was obvious that Danni was having fun playing this gig, regaling us with stories to give us background on the songs. We were of course treated to Danni in full feeling the music mode, which I have now witnessed on the two occasions I’ve seen her live. That’s head tilted back and to the side, eyes closed, and singing from the depth her soul with palpable emotion, as evidenced the photo above and in this video of Beautifully Broken, one of my favoruites. The audio recording of my camera doesn’t do this performance justice, but it still sounds flippin’ great. Being there it had the hair on my neck stand up.

Since buying Danni’s debut album the title track, A Little Redemption, has become another favourite of mine, thanks in part I’m sure to hearing it live on Saturday, and last year in London. In that Slide record shop on Saturday it sounded superb. It also provides the crowd participation humming section, which always makes me smile, and I of course partake in. It was a short set, as these type of things traditionally are, but a fabulous one all the same. Afterwards we got to talk to Danni, and I say we, because she chatted to Lucas about his football and our plans for the weekend. I feel incredibly lucky that not only did I get to see someone who has become one of my absolute favourites in the last year, just 18 miles from my home, but to be welcomed like a friend and be able to natter away, well it’s all rather brilliant. Of course I got my new albums signed, and the setlist too which Danni kindly gave me. I love mementoes from gigs, and signed ones are the best kind. I also spotted a Danni Nicholls t-shirt so had to buy one, especially as it was rolled up and bound like an Elven scroll from Lord of the Rings. I still haven’t untied it yet – it looks so pretty! It’s not easy getting Americana and Country music t-shirts in the UK, so you have to take these opportunities when you can, and representing the artists I admire so much is something I’m proud to do.

Danni Nicholls Live at Slide Records, Bedford for Record Store Day 2018, April 21st

Danni Nicholls Live at Slide Records, Bedford for Record Store Day 2018, April 21st

As I’m sure you have gathered 1000+ words into this blog post, I had a great time on Saturday, and even more so that I was able to share it with Lucas. Just being able to get his mind away from football and Diary of a Wimpy Kid for more than 10 minutes is a feat, to enjoy a 30 minute set like this shows me he has the same taste in great singers as his Dad. He was humming Long Road Home for the rest of the day. If you don’t know of Danni Nicholls then you are in the same boat I was before that gig last summer, but it’s not too late to change that. She has a soulful smooth voice, that coupled with both her superb songwriting and ridiculously good guitar playing abilities means her music enriches the lives of everyone it touches. Danni has a headline tour in June, all the information of which is here. I have my tickets sorted and will also be seeing her at The Long Road festival in September. I’m also eying up an autumn date and hoping for an album launch gig too. Greedy? No, you can never have too much live music, and not when it’s as good as what Danni Nicholls offers. Oh, and those two albums of hers I bought on Saturday – they have been played A LOT in the last 24 hours, and I feel like a kid in a sweet shop, at Christmas. So good.

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