Concert Review: Tony Daunt & the Dauntless, Wine Cellar, 15 January 2021

Tony Daunt is onstage, slicked-back hair, Gretsch guitar and wearing an iconic black Country and Western patterned shirt. The five-piece band has more beards than the Twitter boardroom. They run through a nice Country Americana set with the tone on downbeat and melancholy.

That is what the pedal-steel brings. Pretty and mournful whilst the band lay out a Southern swamp gothic with opening track Gypsy.

He follows that with Momma. A story song of regret and reflection well after the event. Some jailbait dressed up like some heartbreaker/ Your reputation has earned you fame. It all ends in tears. The voice is low and measured and not too far from Johnny Cash in feel.

I am seeing him for the first time but Daunt is a seasoned performer, and he carries himself in that way. As a teenager he was immersed in Punk in New Zealand. Left to go to Brisbane and eventually Melbourne and this lasted twenty plus years. Exposed and influenced by Rockabilly and minor legends like Tex Perkins.

Most notably has played in the past with Bernie Griffin and the Grifters and Blue Roses. Primarily a bass player. He also headed his own Rock’n’Roll outfit called Swampland.

Also in his band is acoustic guitarist Louie Mortlock, and he leads the opening set as Louis Jarlov and the Lonesome.

Two opening songs are solo with electric guitar. First is I Felt Like Hank Williams Tonight. By Jerry Jeff Walker and sung as a tribute. A great Outlaw Country style song and Jarlov immediately impresses with a good disciplined baritone voice.

He does an equally good job of Speed of the Sound of Loneliness by John Prine. And a nod to his recent passing away.

Then the band comes on with Tony Daunt on electric bass and backing vocals. Shaun the Beard on drums.

The energy and the pace increase and we are in a Rockabilly show.

Three Towns and a familiar train shuffle beat on the drums. A true story possibly, about a long-haul truckie in Australia and his loving family. Two of them at either end of the road.

Twenty-Three is similar in style but faster. Cow Punk like Rank and File and the Kinman Brothers. Fast, rhythmic and full of twang.

Ellis May pares this sound back to its origins. That is the Sun Studios with Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two. A dominant bass rhythm engine with spare lead guitar lines.

Don’t Go Out is slower again and a Country story song. The ringing guitar tone is Buddy Holly and also the sound George Harrison achieved on Beatles For Sale which was virtually half a Country Rockabilly record. Also helped invent the Byrds.

From there the band continue to push the pace and it becomes a surprisingly good and infectious Rockabilly Cow-Punk set. The boutique size venue sees two distinct types. Younger and mainly female. Older Rock’n’Rollers.

Gasoline and Burning Down continue with the ringing guitars.

A great workout of ZZ Top’s Tush. The electric bass throbs through the floor.

A song for Andy, who come to the front and does some honky-tonk dancing. Billy Joe Shaver’s I Been to Georgia on a Fast Train.

Tony Daunt has his feet firmly in the pain and redemption of Country music. The two ensembles then are perfectly complementary.

There is a lot of his life and the painful pathway through it reflected in the songs tonight. Some off the album The Gypsy. He mentions alcohol, narcotics and eventually rehab centres.

Methadone Days is melancholy Country Soul. Now it has been replaced by hillbilly heroin.

The heart of the set is really how redemptive and transformative this type of music is. Although Daunt is no George Jones, he has a similar measured and understated way of conveying feelings dripping with pain.

This is conveyed in a handful of tunes mid-set.

Tex Perkin’s What I Done to Her. Roland Howard’s Without a Trace. Shivers. Soulful singing, a crying mourning pedal-steel. Beautiful ringing Gretsch guitar tones.

Misery is an album cut, that Daunt tells us it’s about depression. Then surprises us by being upbeat, a fast rhythm which gets people up and swinging their hips.

As is Wildfire. Dark matters but full of life.

An excellent and enjoyable show by the two artists from both sides of the same coin.

Rev Orange Peel