John Dhali ‘In Time' Album Launch, Gullivers, Manchester-5/10/22






“Thinking I’ve Just Seen An Artist Of Immense Talent And Someone I’m Glad I’ve Found”


It’s back to my roots for a low-key gig in Manchester’s wet and windy Northern Quarter tonight to see rising singer-songwriter John Dhali’s acoustic support show for his debut album ‘In Time’. Gulliver’s on Oldham Street is a beacon of light and warmth on a night reminiscent of the John Grimshaw painting View of Heath Street by Night and people are rushing home in the dark like a Lowry painting as I trudge the streets. Not the best weather to be out and about in if I’m honest.

Over the last few years, John has been perfecting his potent, upbeat blend of folk, indie and soul, achieving notable success. He’s gained national airplay on BBC Radio 1 and 2, online attention from Spotify and support slots with the likes of Frank Turner. I’m looking forward to hearing someone in such an intimate space that undoubtedly has a very bright future.

John is at the door enthusiastically greeting and chatting. His personality perfectly reflecting the infectious positivity of the album we’re here to listen to.  It’s obvious he’s desperate to get on stage and for a wet Wednesday night the room is full. It feels a little unnormal, but there’s an amazing sense of love in the room when John bounces onto the small stage alone wearing his trademark headphones and denim.  It’s really uplifting and a testament to his musicianship, vocals and inspiring lyrics.

Album opener, ‘In time’ fittingly opens the set. My favourite track of the night. The Northern Soul four on four beat pounded by John on a digital drum pedal as his acoustic-driven melody and vocal strokes forcefully and elegantly across the stage. It’s a uniquely powerful and anthemic song on record, but its lyrics take on a greater resonance performed acoustically, and I feel quite emotional. The performance and the words “This gift of life won’t last long. How dare I be a star that could have shone” striking a perfect balance between the struggles of life and the beautiful and evocative positivity we all need. I’m blown away and the crowd are transfixed on the enigmatic singer.

The earnest, spiralling vocal and the enchanting chorus on “Plain Sight” has the crowd both singing and enthralled in equal measure. John is compelling to watch, he has that something. Something you can’t put your finger on. I glance around the crowd and share knowing looks and smiles as they obviously agree.  “Only One” has the crowd singing and dancing. It’s a performance and song made for the big stage and as it grows agonizingly and passionately into its loud and fearless conclusion, I imagine seeing him performing it at Glastonbury in the not-too-distant future. “This little dance” showcases John’s perfect vocals, the audience closing eyes, singing along and clapping.



As he talks about fatherhood, John gets emotional thanking his parents. He’s emerged through some tough times which included illness and rehabilitation. These life experiences are engrained in tonight’s songs and his words connect with the crowd in a way I’ve not seen for a long time. People have their eyes closed mouthing words or are singing out loud. There’s much joking conversation and rapport between songs with the crowd, John realising that the stage floor could be used instead of his digital bass drum pedal raising much laughter.

His performance is uniquely uplifting and I’m reminded of both George Ezra and Jeff Buckley as the folk, indie and pop set progresses. As the last song finishes, John breaks a string and after a few minutes of conversation, guitar tuning and asking the crowd what to play he launches into the thick raw vocals of the blues inspired track “Cigarette”. A request from his Mum in the audience I believe.

Tonight, was one of those gigs where you leave really, really smiling. I walk out onto the wet street thinking I’ve just seen an artist of immense talent and someone I’m glad I’ve found. It was a stunning acoustic and vocal performance, add to this, poignant lyrics and an infectious personality and you’ve got a devasting combination. Make sure you catch him now.



  1. In Time
  2. Better
  3. Horses
  4. Taste
  5. Dance Here
  6. Plain Sight
  7. This little dance
  8. Only One
  9. Cigarette