Live Review: Keuning - Night & Day, Manchester - 09/12/2019
Going by his surname in a new side project away from The Killers, we caught Dave Keuning play an intimate pre-album gig at Manchester’s Night & Day Café.
Rocking up to Night & Day on a rainy Sunday evening we were approached with a queue to enter, as the first UK show and still only one of the very first solo gigs we knew it was going to be a special evening.
Whilst trying to step out of the mind frame that I was seeing ‘one of The Killers’ perform, the small venue was packed out with Killers t-shirts making it quickly apparent that we were in a room full of die-hard fans, the reality could not easily be escaped.
As someone who has been a big fan of The Killers since I was a kid, pretty much worshipping them as a teenager and seeing them perform live just shy of ten times, naturally I couldn’t wait. Part of me was nervous about what to expect, but excitement filled me for the most part. Seeing a founding member of The Killers perform in such an intimate venue was a pretty big deal, I would call it an honour that I was able to be there down the front for such a momentous show.
As the last member of The Killers to do a solo project, the apprehension was real. Dave Keuning is one of the greatest guitarists in rock, but as for singing and being a front man, well, we’ve only got the high-pitched backing vocals to go by. After taking time out from touring with The Killers to spend time with his family, I’m surprised a solo project didn’t happen sooner. After speaking with a few fans before the show it appeared everyone had mutual feelings of not knowing what to expect, but by keeping an open mind then surely, we could only be pleasantly surprised?
Support came from Scott Ruth, who came up to the stage alone, accompanied by only his electric guitar. “I’m Scott Ruth from Orange County, California, this is my first time playing in the UK”, adding to what seemed to be a reoccurring theme of first times happening this evening.
Scott Ruth had the ability to make the room go silent as we watched in awe listening to his beautiful voice. After performing 2017 single ‘Are You There’, he made jokes saying, “if you’re wondering, she isn’t still there, but I found a better one” and showed off his wedding ring to prove it. Making jokes, talking between each song and also stating that when playing shows in America, he’s usually accompanied by a band, Scott’s personality shone through the set.
“This song is the last song I’m gonna play before you get to see what you came for”. Scott left the stage, but to my surprise he reappeared sooner than we had thought…
The wait was over to see exactly what we came for, as Scott put it. Bounding on stage first, Dave Keuning was accompanied by 4 other band members, including Scott Ruth himself! Wearing a signature biker style leather jacket, boots and skinny jeans, Keuning was raring to go. After being stood right under his nose for his hour-long set, he was a lot smoother skinned and glossy haired than I had imagined.
With only three songs released for prior listening, Keuning performed a mix of new, previously un-played and a couple of surprise covers, but I’m sad to inform you that there were no Killers songs involved. Swapping between two guitars, a bass guitar and keys throughout, Dave Keuning proved his multitalented musical ability through this attentive live performance.
“Thanks for coming to my pre-album show, I’ll be back sometime next year”. Finishing on new single ‘Restless Legs’, the room lit up as the crowd were dancing and singing along, a natural crowd pleaser. Dave Keuning won over the initially curious fans with how humble and genuinely happy he was. A brave step in a bold new direction, it made for a perfect Sunday evening of entertainment. In the meantime, I can’t wait for the album, Keuning’s debut album ‘Prismism’ is out on 25th January 2019.
Words and Photography by Abbie Jennings