When talent defeats ego | radioinfo

When talent defeats ego

Monday 11 August, 2014
One man band, Darren Percival
Story by Peter Saxon

A few years ago my wife and I booked tickets to Notes, a small music venue in trendy Newtown to hear James Valentine’s jazz quartet. The multi-talented Valentine is best known as the Afternoon presenter on 702 ABC but he has long been one of Australia’s top saxophonists recording and touring with Jo Camilleri, Kate Ceberano, Wendy Matthews and most notably The Models, a band that had two number one hits and toured the US and Europe.

The night was full of surprises. Valentine’s band had put together a set of Midnight Oil’s hits and played them in their own, jazz quartet, style. That was quite a surprise - kind of like a Vegemite and jam sandwich. It was worth a try.

An even bigger surprise, though, was the guest act that called himself Mr Percival after a pelican that starred in the 1976 movie, Storm Boy. A one man band, Percival had us enthralled with the way he layered his own voice onto a series of loops to represent instruments. He does this live on stage, all in a cappella. Nothing is pre-recorded. He starts by laying down a drum loop, then bass, some more percussion and strings. He puts that altogether and plays it back as he picks up the main mic and after a few bars of the loops he sings, “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…” 

So pure, so rich and so soulful was his voice that it was difficult to believe he wasn’t related to Bill Withers himself, who wrote and performed the original in 1971. As the set went on, the songs and the accompanying layers became more complex and more textured. All the while, Mr Percival was cracking jokes as he worked his magic with the pedals and mics.

Of course, today, most people know Mr Percival as Darren Percival, the second place getter in the first series of The Voice. He was coached by Keith Urban. Australia fell in love with Percival who carried himself with dignity throughout the show eagerly taking advice from his coach. And when he lost to Karise Eden in the final, he took defeat with charm and grace to reveal a man whose enormous talent dwarfs his ego. That was in 2012.

Then a couple of months ago, the aforementioned bride and I ventured around the corner to 505, an intimate venue in Surry Hills offering an eclectic mix of live music six nights a week. Having performed for millions on television and having played the Sydney Opera House, Darren was performing to around 120 eager fans at $25 each. He could not have put more into his performance had he been playing to thousands.

Now Darren Percival’s has landed his own radio show on Sunday Mornings on Mix 92.7 on the Sunshine Coast, having done a successful stint on smoothfm. For those who love puns, he’s called the show “Up Close and Percival.” Okay, he’s not a perfect Percival.

Darren, a Sunshine Coast local, has graced the Mix 92.7 studio as a special guest and fill-in on a number of previous occasions. 

Content Director Ryan Khay said "He is such an iconic Sunshine Coaster, we wanted to give him his own show. Who doesn't want those dulcet tones and larger than life personality on their station! His passion for radio, and The sunshine Coast is infectious". 

'Up Close and Percival' runs 8-10 Sunday mornings on 92.7 Mix FM with various music features, chats with his famous mates and a segment with Aussie comedians called 'Behind the Laughter' and, you guessed it, there’s lots of lots more.

After a couple of shows under his belt, perhaps the affable Percival could be syndicated to spread his charm around Australia.

Watch below as Darren Percival does an impromptu with a capella legend Bobby McFerrin at a vocal workshop in the U.S.


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