REVIEW: Dean Johnson, Port Sunlight Christmas Food Fayre 02/12/12


It might have been a cold December afternoon at the Port Sunlight Food Fayre but the visitors were warmed by the vast array of quality food and drink on offer and a special guest appearance by top singer/songwriter Dean Johnson. He was the perfect accompaniment to this early Christmas event that is well celebrated on this side of the Mersey. Shaun McCoy went along to soak up the atmosphere.

Dean Johnson is an all rounder he’s written the Bullets and Daffodils musical which was based on the life of WWI poet Wilfred Owen. He has collaborated and toured with a plethora of artists including: Ian McNabb, 10cc, The Christians and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings. So playing this local event is like a second nature to a guy who has played at the Royal Albert Hall.

Dean is a wholly talented folk/pop performer in the mould of Neil Young, Don McLean and Al Stewart. He’s got a very laidback nature to his music – it’s very warm and poetic, which fits his smooth heartfelt voice. Folk is very much on trend at the moment and rightly so. Dean keeps things simple but very rhythmic which comes across through his seasoned guitar playing and you can see and hear Dean’s experience shining through.

One of the stand out tracks of Dean’s set was ‘New York Times’. From what I heard, this song was a modern take on some of Dylan’s Big Apple influenced material. It’s stylishly understated but rises to the fore through Dean’s highly illustrated lyrics and shiny guitar strings.

‘Ruby’ was another engaging song that is really soulful and endearing – with more flashes of lyrical finery. Dean is also not averse to performing quality covers as he coolly demonstrates by taking on the Dobie Gray classic ‘Drift Away’. It’s a real feelgood song that people remember and join in with.

Dean’s fine performance demonstrates why so many acts have brought him in to work on material or open for them on tour.

If you get the chance go and see the critically acclaimed musical Bullets and Daffodils which is about the struggle and futility of war. As poetic hero, Wilfred Owen found out to his detriment. A musical that is still very apt in this day and age because war still ravages on in many countries around the world. You can get information about the musical and more details about the late war poet at the Wilfred Owen Story, Argyle Street in Birkenhead.

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