Dan Reed Network / Vega - The Live Rooms, Chester (UK) - 04 March 2017
This is a first for me. My first visit to The Live Rooms venue in Chester. I've been tempted before, as Chester is only a forty minute drive from home, but being a big Dan Reed Network fan I thought I'd make the effort and turn the event into a long weekend in the process.
A ticket mix-up meant I only caught the second half of Vega's opening set. I've seen the band previously as part of a festival line-up and they always seem to project a sense of enjoyment, a feeling generally reciprocated, and tonight was no exception. There were actually a number of Vega shirts on display that indicated just how popular the band are. Even though I missed the first few songs, what I did see proved to be entertaining and the perfect way to warm up the crowd in anticipation for the main event. Nick Workman has a great live voice and the Martin brothers have the ability to pen some very catchy tunes, the type of songs that invite audience participation. It was a great start to the night and I think if time had allowed most people would have welcomed a quick encore.
If anyone had asked me a few years ago to name a band I'd like to see reform, Dan Reed Network would have been near the top, if not the top, of my wish list. Here we are in 2017 and not only have the band reformed, they have released a critically acclaimed album of new material and re-found the love and enthusiasm they had for the scene at the tail end of the eighties and early part of the nineties. I saw them two or three times during their initial period of activity and have seen them three times in the last couple of years. Appearances may have changed (slightly) during that time, but what has not changed is the way Dan Reed, Brion James, Melvin Brannon II, Dan Pred and (new guy) Rob Daiker know how to put on a show. From opening 'Resurrect' through to the closing 'Tiger In A Dress' the party atmosphere was maintained and the energy levels never dipped. Dan Reed's vocals were excellent, James' guitar playing sublime, Daiker's keyboard enhancements subtle yet vital and the rhythm section of Brannon II (bass) and Pred (drums) was totally synchronised and solid. I love the band, so may be biased, but I could have listened and watched all night.
The set-list was a great mix of old and new, and though I'm sure everything was completely rehearsed, the improvised characteristics of the delivery came across as genuine and natural. 'Baby Now I' incorporated elements of Kiss's 'I Was Made For Loving You', Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'Relax' and Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' along the way. This gave Brannon II the chance to showcase some of his bass skills and raised the Funky temperature in the room. Highlights for me included the emotional 'Champion', reflective 'Rainbow Child' and heartfelt 'Stronger Than Steel', though it was a push to single out individual moments. Daiker's solo moment, 'All For A Kiss', was a big surprise and the ideal showcase for his own talents. The whole band brought the song to its powerful conclusion and I think those in the crowd unfamiliar with Daiker were mightily impressed. 'Ritual', 'Get To You' and 'Under My Skin' turned the clock back twenty-five years and thankfully the noise levels were loud enough to drown out my accompanying background vocals.
Following the show Dan Reed and the guys were more than happy to spend time chatting and signing things, and their infectious passion for what they do was clearly evident. A fun-packed night and an ideal opportunity to witness some brilliant songs performed by equally brilliant musicians.