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CONCERT REVIEW: Danni Nicholls and Hot Raisin, The Octagon Chapel, Norwich




Bedford singer-songwriter Danni Nicholls has been bitten by the music-making bug ever since she saw a street jazz trio on a family holiday as an eight-year-old.

Eight years later, she made her move into singing live and has never looked back, fuelled by an unquenchable thirst to make "Music City USA" (Nashville) her second home.

The fruits of her fourth full-length album, The Melted Morning (released on Friday, April 12), were shared around at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich, at the end of March when a knowledgeable and appreciative audience sat back and soaked up the stripped music born from Danni's lifelong affinity with all things Americana.

Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by (8624141)
Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by (8624141)

Currently on a UK tour that intensified with an album launch on London on Friday, Danni said: "I'm quite looking forward to the tour heating up and when you're on the road properly, with show after show where you get into a momentum.

"When you're trying to make lots of records, you have to think of doing something different and coming out of your comfort zone.

"That's how you learn, grow and develop."

Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by (8624083)
Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by (8624083)

The Melted Morning marks ten years since Danni first dared to put her music out with the EP Heavy Shoes, followed by another EP Time three years later.

In 2013, Danni's debut album A Little Redemption was released, backed up another album, Mockingbird Lane, in 2015.

She said: "I feel like I'm a different person, different artist, to the one on Heavy Shoes.

"I've grown, I've learned and I feel like I've moved on from my early songs.

"I don't think they represent what I'm doing now, although they are still part of my journey and it's so interesting to see that people still relate to that music which is good."

Before Danni took to the stage in Norwich, Norfolk band Hot Raisin offered their own mix of folksy, rootsy, Indie and Transatlantic music which blended nicely with the main event.

Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by Steve Howlett, (8624077)
Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by Steve Howlett, (8624077)

Also marking their tenth year of performing, founder members Tory Cobb and Mary Podd were joined by Luke Fox as they teased their audience with uncomplicated songs like Later, Captain and Whisky Ginger.

Then it was Danni's turn to unveil tracks from her new album, supported by multi-talented musicians Mark Lewis and Thomas Dibb, full of stories about travelling, rejections and heartbreak.

Chief among them was the addictive Frozen, strongly supported by the gospel-influenced Hear Your Voice, Power to Leave, Ancient Embers and Danni's self-confessed autobiography-in-song, Hopeless Romantic.

Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by (8624096)
Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by (8624096)

Danni said: "The new album is still very me, but we've taken a new direction and it's worked out.

"It had to be different from Mockingbird Lane by wanting to let the voices and stories just be at the forefront so that everything else sat back a little bit.

"The Melted Morning feels very vulnerable and I was a little nervous about it.

"But people seem to be relating to it and, as a songwriter, you want to write about the big feelings that you have.

Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by (8624118)
Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by (8624118)

"I'm lucky in my life to have experienced love, but sometimes with that comes the other side of it.

"I've lived all over the place and that's helped me with my songwriting, but I'd love to spend an elongated period of time in Nashville to develop a bit of an audience on that side of the pond.

"But I love it over here too because it's my home so this back and forth is going to feature heavily in my life and I'm happy with that."

Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by (8624086)
Danni Nicholls in concert at The Octagon Chapel, Norwich. Photo by (8624086)

Anyone who goes to see Danni at shows in Edinburgh (Tuesday), Glasgow (Wednesday), Liverpool (Friday), Manchester (Sunday), Birmingham (April 26) or Basingstoke (April 27) should be prepared for a very raw, honest and heartfelt show.

They will also be privileged to see her play a Burns London 1964 short-scale jazz guitar, given to her by her uncle Heathcliff when she was 16.

Danni said: "Playing an electric guitar is such a different beast to playing an acoustic guitar.

"But because I wrote some of the new songs on the electric guitar, it's the right time to come out of my comfort zone and play my electric guitar.

"It's such fun and really works for this set of songs because it's just what they needed, what they wanted and what we've given them.

"So many people have had the experiences I write about in my songs and because of the nature of my job, I'm always on the move with them.

"It feels good to write about that side of things, it's a blessing and it's a curse.

"I've lived all over the place and that's helped, having left Bedford, went off and had adventures.

"It's inspiring, it's frustrating, it's all sorts of feelings, especially when I'm in Nashville because everybody is doing what I do.

"Suddenly, you're a very small fish in a very big pond and it's terrifying so you either sink of swim.

"But I like a challenge and I just like the vibes over there.

"Of course I have certain goals and dreams, to play at certain events and to work with particular people.

"But I'd be happy for it to all stop tomorrow because of what I've achieved."



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