Oli Brown & The Dead Collective // Dan Byrne // Live Review // The Louisiana // Bristol

It was still light as punters packed into the Louisiana, in central Bristol on this mild Sunday evening. They trickled in once the doors opened at 7 pm to grab a drink and head upstairs to catch the last night of Oli Brown & The Dead Collective’s Initium Tour with support from Dan Byrne.

The Louisiana is one of the smaller music venues in Bristol and only a stone’s throw away from the infamous Thekla, who was also hosting a night of rock music from When Rivers Meet.  But tonight, these two huge acts are going raise the goddamn roof off the Louisiana; there’s no doubt about that.

7.30 pm sharp and Dan Byrne hit the stage with his band.  After his departure from being the vocalist of Revival Black, he’s been a busy man, reaping the benefits of going solo. In the last few months he’s been on the road with support from Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters, celebrated the success of ‘Like Animals’ which has featured on Planet Rock Radio, travelled to Germany to sing alongside The Scorpions, released his new EP ‘Beginnings’, played at Planet Rockstock, and now has the legendary Steelhouse Festival to play with some of rocks finest bands as well as supporting the incredible Kris Barras to look forward to.  He’s even managed to squeeze in a trip to Italy! That’s got to be one hell of a resume he has, and he’s most definitely hit the floor running.

Heading straight into a number from his EP ‘Beginnings’, ‘Hard to Breathe’ is first on the list, instantaneously setting the scene for the night.  As a four-piece band, these guys lay down some seriously heavy stuff; and with Byrne’s prodigious vocals, it’s easy to see the reason behind his success.

Although the Louisiana is an intimate venue, Byrne interacted with the crowd, consistently addressing them like the room was the size of a stadium. “How are you all Bristol? I want to thank you all for coming tonight.  It’s the last night of the tour so thanks for supporting live music.”

Reaching for his acoustic guitar, Byrne stepped on the brakes for ‘Easier’; a track that exhibits his vocal range, releasing that huge amount of air in those lungs of his.

“Ok Bristol, we’re gonna pick up the pace a bit now with some new tracks; is that ok Bristol?  I wanna see you dancing. The is a track called ‘Like Animals’ that some of you may have heard play on Planet Rock.” That little announcement had the crowd moving as the track’s bodacious guitar riff and stentorian drums filtered through the floorboards. What a track.

Of course, Byrne’s set wouldn’t be complete without a tune from his time with Revival Black, as the penultimate track of the set saw the band launch into ‘Wide Awake’ in which he asked for some more crowd participation.  They obliged as Death of Me’ drew the set to a close; another monstrous track taken from ‘Beginnings’. And just like that, his set was done and dusted, so Byrne took the opportunity to grab his bass guitarist for a manly embrace to mark the end of their remarkable tour.





It’s time for a bit of fresh air for the crowd and to make some way for a whole host of Roadies to reset the stage for the night’s headline act.

For those who’ve seen Oli Brown play on stage; whether it was with Raveneye or with his Blues Band; you’ll know how lively his shows usually are and how astonishing he is on guitar.  But this set felt more deep and meaningful from the very start.

In keeping with the theme so far, there was little in the way of an introduction; there was no need.  He’s been in the business for half of his life and has already gained success with his early career in Blues, winning awards for his solo act and playing at the legendary Glastonbury Festival many years ago. By 2012, he’d already released his third album and was well on the road to success, supporting the likes of Joe Satriani the following year before the formation of Raveneye in 2014; an extraordinary achievement in a short amount of time.  He’s been there, done that and got the t-shirt.

But after taking some time out to recharge, rethink, and set up home and his new jewellery business with his partner, he’s back with a vengeance.

Joining Brown in his latest project, ‘The Dead Collective’, is Wayne Proctor on drums and Sam Wood on guitar, both having worked with a list of renowned musicians as long as your arm.

Playing drums for bands such as King King and Aynsley Lister, Proctor is no stranger to working with Brown, having featured on his third album ‘Here I Am’, and later on in his career as a Producer and mixing engineer.  Known for his dexterity behind a drum kit, Proctor is the best man for the job.

Wood is also a guitarist who’s been on the rock circuit for some time playing for several bands, namely Wayward Sons, and more recently with the Black Star Riders.  There’s no forgetting those blonde locks when he takes any stage with his effortless guitar playing. This is going to be one monstrous night.

It’s now 8:45 pm and the trio are ready to roll as the lights around them turn scarlet. As Proctor starts to taunt the hi-hats, the lights synchronise to each heavy blow on the kick drum whilst Brown and Wood stand in the darkest depths of the stage, waiting to jump into the first track of the night, ’Father’.

As the set progressed, the atmosphere completely shifted. One by one, each track grasped your thoughts and pushed them deeper into the music; a truly mesmerising experience to behold.  You’d easily forget that you were in a small pub in the centre of Bristol on a Sunday night.

Every strum of the guitar and every beat of the drum was played with zeal and passion, and coupled with the extreme lighting, this intimate gig had turned into what felt like a theatrical production. There had been a great deal of thought that had gone into this set, and with Brown’s artistic and creative flair, it was mastered beautifully.

The sound that the three of them had forged was phenomenal. Proctor produced the most incredible foundations for both Brown and Wood to lay their guitar riffs on, whilst Brown’s velvety vocals were smoothed over the top of the track to create a rich, full-bodied vibe.

As the band made their way through the set, the connection between them on stage was also gripping, with Brown and Wood regularly meeting centre stage for a battle of the riffs and Proctor continuing to thrive at the back of the stage, keeping up the pace in between the timing of the lights.  With many of the tracks being played from the band’s EP’s ‘Prelude’ and ‘Epilogue’, the crowd were also treated to Goliath’ and ‘Estranged’; two tunes that were hot off the press and previously unheard. But whatever track was next on the setlist, Brown would seldom speak between them.  You’d just be stood in complete darkness amongst the deep and deadly sounds that were played over the band’s PA, penetrating the floor.

‘Heard it All Before’ had to be one of the strongest tracks of the night, but even with the tempo knocked down a little for ‘Your Love’,  Brown still gives it his all with his opulent guitar solos.

With no time for an encore, ‘Home Sweet Home’ completed the band’s set for the night.  The crowd were buzzing and so were the band, at which point Brown spoke a few words about the tour coming to an end and how grateful he was to play this momentous night in Bristol; words that you could see came straight from the heart.

It’s still early days for Oli Brown & The Dead Collective, but the set the band played was far superior to anything he’s been part of before. The tracks they played were artistically created with their strong musicianship at the forefront, and it was clear that each of them looked at home while performing.

This is the start of something big for the band and if there was ever a league of Supergroups created in the music business, they’d fit nicely into the Championship League.  Make way Grohl, Homme and Jones. These guys are hot on your tail.

All in all the night was electric.  Both bands were on top form and did seem too big to perform in such a small venue.  But one thing’s for sure, the two together were a perfect match.

The tour may be over, but you can still catch Oli Brown & The Dead Collective over the coming months at In The Sticks Festival in Shrewsbury, Love rocks Festival in Ferndown and Wildfire  Festival in Wanlockhead.  Grab yourself a ticket pronto!

Oli Brown & The Dead Collective


Review & Photography: Emma Painter // Pacific Curd Photography