Two of the biggest names in Funk Rock in the late 1980’s early 90’s grace the stage together for the opening show in Newcastle for the first time in over 25 years and the Town was set to go wild.
The Dan Reed Network have made a huge comeback since Dan returned to the scene staring with solo shows in 2008, then evolving to the Band’s full return to the stage in October 2013. From then, while Dan’s solo work has gone from strength to strength, the Network have just powered through and are constantly gigging, from their last Tour of the States, through the UK and across Europe.
Opening this leg of the UK Tour, Dan and the lads had a great time and just loved playing the big stage to the packed out crowd and what a reception they got! Fans who have loved the Network since the late 80’s were they to support and many hundreds more who were hearing the Network for the first time instantly tuned into them and grooved into the feel of the night… and with just under a 45 minute set, the Network played the best from their 1st LP, Slam and The Heat and from their new CD, Fight another Day, came the superb track, ‘Champion’, ending their set with ‘Long Way To Go’, which had Dan and the lads come to the front of the stage, the five of them singing their hearts out which had the entire venue alongside them in melody, harmony and spirit.The Dan Reed Network were the perfect band to open for a night of Funk Rock and as the crews got the stage ready for Extreme, the venue was treated to even more classic Network as they played the 1st LP over the speaker system as the stage was prepared.
I heard numerous people saying that it was going to be an early finish with it being a weekday and Extreme would probably play round about a 90 minute set but boy were they to be proved wrong.With what seems like quite a gap between bands, a little after 9.15pm the house lights went out and Extreme burst onto the stage in a blaze of high energetic Funk, opening with ‘It’s A Monster’ from their classic and best known LP, Pornograffitti. A great choice to open the show with that killer riff and a guitar solo that would not go amiss on an outtake from Van Halen 1
From the second track, Extreme owned the stage and made use of every inch of space and worked it like arena sized professionals, constantly moving and grooving; Gary, with an extended mic stand that was so long, I think Freddy Mercury would have been forced to raise an curious eyebrow… while Nuno’s sound, to me was probably the closest to Eddie Van Halen’s I’ve heard live and strangely, the bassist also reminded me a little of Michael Anthony and had a bass sound that was just one of the best I’ve heard, and then when he sang, what a voice man! This guy can sing too and I would not be surprised in the least if he we’re to do a solo project at some time.
Nuno was just as cool as cool can be and Gary with a head band that at first glance looked more like a Crown of Thorns, knew every move and pose a singer could get away with and even one or two that Mick Jagger I think would appreciate.
The third track was a real surprise as they went straight into ‘Get The Funk Out’ one of their biggest hit tracks, which really amazed many people, as judging by the surprised faces around me and comments people made after, they just felt this would have better fitted at the end of the show, even to end on, rather than third track in.No pryo, flames or smoke bombs, just classic late 80’s early 90’s Funk Rock all the way with ‘Kid Ego’ being the choice to take everyone back to their debut LP ‘EXTREME’.
Nuno’s guitar playing was just perfection and he took centre stage (more than once) for a finger blistering solo, but guitar is not his only talent up his sleeve as a small stand-alone drum snare set was wheeled out to the left of the drum kit which both Nuno and drummer Kevin played off against each other with some serious fast rhythms and fills …and yeah, the one and only time I seen that done before was…, yup, Van Halen, Newcastle City Hall, where Eddie, played drums on one side, Michael on the other and Diamond Dave with a tambourine (or was it half a coconut and a drum stick? Who knows, it was such a long time ago) but one’s things for sure – something was telling me these guys are huge Van Halen fans and clearly a lot of influence has been passed on down the years.
While talking to the fans, Nuno could not praise the Dan Reed Network more highly during their set adding while thanking the band, ”I just loved those three albums man …I played them till they were worn out!”
With Funk track after Funk track being belted out and the crowd feeling the groove, this took the show well past 90 minutes and as it was coming up to the 2 hours mark, two stools were placed front centre stage – Gary and Nuno took their places for their No 1 Billboard Hit ‘More Than Words’ and I got to say, they sang it perfectly, …nailing the duel vocal line and all the harmonies as the crowd sang in unison bringing the show almost to a close and with Queen’s ‘We Are The Champions’ which took everyone by surprise, ended what was a rousing night of classic Funk Rock from two of the biggest bands of their day.
Nuno’s final words for the fans from Dan Reed was: “Dan Reed just kissed me” as a thank you to the fans, …quickly adding, “It was not on the lips – but hey, it’s only the first night!” 😉 Hit Today, (You’ll be Gone Tomorrow) was the only track for me that I didn’t like and it could have been easily changed for another more up-beat funked up track or placing Get The Funk Out nearer the end, or the one they could have closed the set with just before ‘We Are The Champions’ .
But at the end of the day, Extreme were awesome in their own right.
The whole band gave a 110% performance with a great sound and light show they played to a packed out 02, they laughed and joked with themselves and the fans and were real entertainers from start to finish.
For me, this was the first time seeing Extreme and for me the instance they hit the stage, the initial vibe of their look and feel took me straight back to Newcastle 1979 with Van Halen at the City Hall; these guys had the same drive and passion for a live performance now as Halen had in their early days, Gary had the same big persona as Roth and didn’t just sing to the fans but worked the audience constantly interacting while parading around the stage with a touch of Freddy Mercury’s character in his moves too and with that big Queen song to end on, that was enough to know how much they love Queen.
As they were leaving the stage, Nuno turned to see Gary had jumped off the stage and into the Pit and had clambered up on the crowd barrier and was just beaming with smiles as he was being greeted by hundreds of fans eager to shake hands as he walked the edge of the barrier supported by the fans.
Not wanting to miss out, Nuno also jumped off the stage and he too walked the entire length of the barrier, greeting everyone who surged forward and while a multitude of hands guided him from the far right – to far left the as they each helped pass him on to the next in line, Nuno suddenly spotted a pint of beer in a guys out stretched hand, takes it from him and downs it in one to the delight and chant of the crowd…. “Cheers”!