SOhO Restaurant and Music Club was graced with a raw, soulful performance by Davy Knowles on Wednesday, Sept. 17, in an emotionally-charged evening of poetic lyricism, charming anecdotes and incredible music.
The Manx musician first burst onto the scene with his band Back Door Slam, sparking new life into the musical world of blues-rock. Since then, Knowles has explored beyond his signature electrifying music reminiscent of classic rock with his latest album, “If I Should Wander.” Here, Knowles seems to embark on a journey and strings together this beautiful narrative through poetic lyricism and folk tunes. This watershed piece of his, brims with rich emotion, marking a point of profound maturity in the artist’s life and art. Knowles’ newfound sound set the tone for his captivating performance at SOhO.
Accompanied by his acoustic guitar, Knowles hit the stage, kicking off with a performance of “Only Son,” the first song from “If I Should Wander.” A soft, warm melody filled the room with this deeply emotional piece. The song grapples with the weight of maturity, along with fear and internal conflict. For a song that felt so deeply personal, Knowles managed to capture universal emotions and experiences that resonated with the audience.
Launching through years of songwriting, Knowles had the crowd embark on a journey with him, experiencing the vast range of his work. The artist rolled through a vast collection of his songs, along with some special, unreleased pieces as well, stirring up some excitement in the crowd.
Recent releases like “If I Should Wander,” a piece he dedicated to his wife, Amber Knowles, and beloved older songs such as “Country Girl,” a song written about his sister, Holly Knowles, and the pain she felt being so far away from the comforts of their home, made heartfelt appearances that evening.
With a setlist ranging from heartfelt, folk pieces to his rowdy, electrifying works, Knowles demonstrated his incredible versatility. Armed with his octave mandolin, Knowles began to switch up the mood, serving up his more playful, lively songs such as “Bridal Veil Falls.” Here, the artist strung along to quick paced, impassioned songs that jolted the audience into a joyful frenzy. His fingers cut through the notes and danced so rapidly along his strings, the audience could not help but sit in awe.
Perhaps the most powerful performance of the night was of “If I Ever Meet My Maker,” an ode to Knowles’ late father from his 2021 album “What Happens Next.” Guided by soft, melancholic tunes, listeners accompanied Knowles on his journey of grief and the challenges of coming to terms with the loss of a loved one.
“There was just this little feeling constantly of ‘Dad, I wish you could see this,’” Knowles revealed as he opened up to the audience about the time his father had sadly passed away. Expressing vulnerability in both his songwriting and performance, the artist allowed listeners to peer into his internal world, forging a connection with them.
Building on this connection with the audience, Knowles’ performance felt deeply intimate and personal. Lulled into a trance, the audience hung onto his every word, completely captivated by his music and raw emotion. As he charmed the crowd by cracking jokes and telling the stories behind his songs, the audience became increasingly impassioned and immersed in his performance.
Mirroring his latest album, the show was minimalistic and all acoustic, yet had such a profound, incredible impact that left the crowd in awe. Typically, Knowles is accompanied by a band and electric guitars. However, that evening he put on a simple performance of just a man and his acoustics, an impressive feat. The simplicity of his show was key to showcasing the raw emotion and poetic quality of his beautifully crafted pieces.
“To do some old band songs in a new way,” was how Knowles described what he sought out to do that evening, as he tested out this stripped back sound. This newly emerged spirit of Knowles paired with a beautiful evening, compelled the audience to erupt in applause as the night came to an end.
This article appeared in the February 1st Daily Nexus printed edition.