Review: The Dunwells, The Leeman Rose, York

HAVING supported the likes of Mumford and Sons and Elbow on UK tours, Leeds band The Dunwells visited The Leeman Rose in York as part of their national acoustic tour.

The band promoted their debut album at a Coppergate Café Nero show several years ago and more recently performed at A Grand Yorkshire Night Out at the York Theatre Royal at the request of the late, legendary Harry Gration.

The Dunwells released their fourth, full-length studio album Tell Me What You Want in 2023, an album described as airy acoustic indie-folk-pop with strong lead vocals, harmonies and big choruses.

Their title track pays homage to some of their favourite artists and contemporaries such as Passenger, The Lumineers and Foy Vance with clear influences such Paul Weller, Noel Gallagher, Fleetwood Mac and Bob Dylan seeping through. They sing of joy, love, hope and loss and were a brave and interesting booking for this traditional local, The Leeman Rose.

In the spirit of the recent York Residents’ Weekend and the national celebration of Independent Venue Week, the venue removed all ticket and admission charges for the gig on February 3 as a thank you to the local community for its ongoing support and as a commitment to promoting quality local live music.

On the evening, landlord and live music fan Tim Kinslow introduced the band and spoke of having been a fan himself for several years. He shared his excitement at having secured them for this show and, after this heartfelt introduction, The Dunwells opened with Animal, a song which instantly drew the audience in with its lyrics, harmonies and moving chorus.

The Dunwells are two brothers, Joe and Dave Dunwell, and the vocal range of main singer Joe was wide and impressive throughout the evening as the pair performed new releases including the rolling Daydreamer and the catchy This is Love.

Unknown to most of the audience before the evening, the band read the room well. They served up the occasional covers alongside tracks from their own extensive back catalogue.

Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark and the Elvis classic Always On My Mind were tastefully and sensitively weaved into their set, the latter followed by their wonderful single Gold, its lyrics telling of setbacks, promises and compromise. Dave performed an intimate short solo set followed by the duo’s signature track Communicate, beautifully sung among the band’s storytelling and tales of friends, history, and lyrical meaning.

The Dunwells were a triumph this evening as their authentic songwriting combined with hard work, humour and humility converted many new fans among this captive audience.

The Dunwells played The Leeman Rose, York, on Saturday February 3, 2024