Picture this, it’s a Sunday night, the Manchester Academy is pretty full, an atmospheric keyboard sequence is filling the air, interrupted only by the cries of “Resurrect” and a nothing short of spine tingling intro scream!
Yes its the last night of the Dan Reed Network’s 5 date UK tour. Taking in the Midlands, Sheffield, Swindon (which was for a very worthwhile children’s charity Fat Boys, where I believe over £12,000 was raised) the Hard Rock Hell AOR festival in Wales and finally Manchester, (Sheffield and Manchester were double headers with Tyketto)
‘Resurrect’ a track never played live back in the day but was ‘resurrected’ (see what I did there?) to open up last October’s shows, In my opinion, it’s the perfect song to open a gig, such a big fill the room track that really sets you up for what’s to come.
As Brion James, DRN’s guitarist is asked to “Skin Me”, the riff and groove of ‘Under My Skin’ has the band jumping around the stage like 20 somethings, the fun and enthusiasm is shining through and is certainly rubbing off on the crowd. What follows is one of the loudest cheers of the night, “Donald Trump is an asshole” it seems the Manchester crowd somewhat agrees with our American frontman.
Anyway back to the music as they tear into ‘Forgot to Make Her Mine’ another classic that’s full of the funk rock they made their own all those years ago.
It’s been 25 years+ since we have heard a new recording from the Dan Reed Network, well folks the wait is almost over as new album ‘Fight Another Day’ Is due this June, we get a preview here of a new track ‘Divided’ the fun funk rock grooves and rolling riffs are all still there, with lets just say a little more grown up lyrics, a perfect combination in my book. The first 2 videos were being shot nearby in Bolton, England with ‘Divided’ and ‘The Brave’ being chosen as the first 2 singles, an album release party to be held in London on 15 June. Highly anticipated is truly an understatement for this album.
A great rendition of probably their most recognisable track ‘Rainbow Child’ is suitably sang back next with the vigour it deserves.
As Dan introduces the band the aforementioned Brion James, Dan Pred on Drums, Melvin Brannon on Bass and Rob Daiker doing a sterling job on the keys, (replacing original keyboardist Blake Sakamoto) a long time friend of the band and collaborator of Dan’s solo projects, Rob also co produced the new album, “and I’m Justin Bieber” is the self introduction from the man up front.
‘Make it Easy’ is up next, this is one of my all time favourite riffs with that funky backline from Dan P and Melvin that always gets the head moving.
‘The Heat’ track ‘Baby Now I’ is fully mashed up with the Kiss classic ‘I Was Made for Loving You’ and the hook from Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ seamlessly into a quick rendition of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s ‘Relax’ Now that’s not something you hear every Sunday is it!
As the intro sirens of ‘Cruise Together’ bounce round the room, Brion’s guitar melody and the big bass and snare kick in, it is truly another goosebumps moment.
‘Baby Don’t Fade’ from their self titled debut and
the fun track ‘Tiger in a Dress’ from the classic ‘Slam’ album are funked through as we come to the final track of the set, and the tour. But as he is in the building it would be rude to not get Danny Vaughn out to guest. But first of all Danny is goaded into providing us with his cartoon voice impressions, And no Danny you haven’t lost your street credibility, we were all laughing with you not at you, I promise.
A great version of the funky ‘Get To You’ with Danny guesting on the choruses closes what was a fun set of quality tracks and brilliant musicianship.
The Network are firmly back and, in my opinion, they are better and tighter than they ever were. And that is good going for a band who reside in all 4 corners of the planet.
Thanks for the past, the present and as a certain frontman once wrote “Rock the Future”!
Words by Darren Thompson
Photos by Mike Brierley
2. Under my Skin
3. Forgot To Make Her Mine
5. Rainbow Child
6. Make It Easy
7. Baby Now I
8. Cruise Together
9. Baby Don’t Fade
10. Tiger In A Dress
11. Get To You
Dan Reed Network are
Dan Reed – Vocals
Brion James – Guitars
Melvin Brannon – Bass
Dan Pred – Drums
Rob Daiker – Keyboards