Dan Sartain
@ Leeds Cockpit

Tonight, Dan’s ambitious four band schedule has been trimmed after The Cockpit management added a fifth (Leeds’ locals, The Sugars)! It is fascinating to hear and compare Plate Six’s performance as support band with their performance as Dan’s backing band. Now, that’s hard work for you! As support they play tightly composed and arranged tunes rather than backing to lyrics. The three-piece are intense and relentless, listening to each other and setting up a churning set of waves.

I know some of the audience have been expecting a punk rockabilly act, judging from the few jelled-up quiffs in the crowd. Dan takes the stage with flat hair and flak jacket, a long way from the street-fighter promo shots. The nippy and racy beat on disc takes on a deeper undertow here, the band’s instinctive interplay building each song into something with the grippiness of a Fall performance. Playing anything up to three sets a night on this tour, and having a decade of history together, it’s no surprise Plate Six are tighter than tight. The guitarist of Plate Six is now on bass, playing very punchy lines with his body shaking to the beat. Dan has his eyes screwed down tight as he works on delivering the lyrics spot on. And though Dan hates the rockabilly sobriquet, the band is turning out a constant rock and roll boogie (and he has a slight echo on his vocals). Although in his world he is focussed on word and intonation, we hear the beat….. and it is good. Short song follows short song on Dan’s well-travelled semi-acoustic guitar, pausing only to let the drummer swap sticks or for Dan to exchange pleasantries with the crowd. With his semi-stoned grin, Sartain practically begs the Leeds audience for ‘pot’. Not understanding this strange foreign lingo, none seems to be forthcoming and Dan pleads increasingly as the evening draws on.

He plays a ‘best of’ from the 2 albums and a few new ones, including “I Saw The Light Part Two”. The drummer has the look and style of Joe Russo from jamming jazz-rock improv oddities The Benevento / Russo Duo – his specs half way down his nose, hands intent on a loose but tight rhythm. The bassist is still dancing as he plays, moving into an instrumental, which lets us focus on this band grooving hard. An impromptu attempt on a Slayer cover cracks everyone up. This is a cool looking crowd, having fun. The Rocket is full but not unpleasant. Dan wraps up with a short lecture on drugs and a raucous ‘Leeches’, avoiding last single – ‘Flight Of The Finch’. The small, wiry figure has played an hour and a quarter. Having been scheduled for a mere 45 minutes, I think he and the band were just having a lot of fun and Dan was enjoying been the centre of attention. Plate Six must be knackered – the bassist demands Sartain uses his qualified masseuse skills to soothe their aching muscles…..

Tonight has been a bravura performance, largely thanks to interplay of a standard we’re not used to in a rock idiom. Dan Sartain would be a fool if he didn’t use this band as his permanent backing group.

Ross McGibbon