What’s not to like about Dan Reed? Great songs, warmth, and a humility sometimes lacking in other performers. We first caught Dan’s quiet UK renaissance back in 2009 when he took his acoustic guitar around smaller venues, always connecting with his audience via his fund of stories, his serenity, and his heritage.
Little by little, that renaissance was further fuelled by an excellent album (‘Coming Up For Air’) and further touring, including an appearance at Download.
Tonight he’s edging towards the end of a 10-day tour playing mainly on the Academy circuit. Whilst you can’t really fault tonight’s show (the sound and lights are surprisingly good), Dan would just as easily appeal to the coffee and comfy chair set in slightly more salubrious surroundings.
With his band in tow again this time, including trusty guitarist and album collaborator Rob Daiker, this was another masterclass in a well paced and well populated setlist. With sufficient nod to his past we luxuriated in several tracks from his new album ‘Signal Fire’.
There were of course standouts and the old stagers amongst us revelled in ‘Rainbow Child’ and ‘I’m So Sorry’ whilst there was a particularly awesome ‘Get To You’. This was a gradually building funk workout which drew out the best from the band including bassist Karl Sweeney who was on home turf.
If the classic Dan Reed Network stuff always sounds fantastic, even if less frenetic than back in the day, it was really a highlight amongst highlights. The latest songs are in their own way just as interesting and absorbing. So tracks like ‘ Signal Fire’, ‘All I Need Is You’, and ‘Only Love’ (tonight complete with “exotic” dancer) always tug at the emotional heart strings with their uplifting choruses and thoughtful lyrics, whilst more depth is found in songs like the darker ‘Indestructible’.
The truth is, in a different age, many of these songs would be staples on daytime radio. It is even a challenge these days to get punters to gigs. The Dan Reed Network were popular in the UK but remained a relatively short-lived phenomenon and no doubt only the cognoscente are enticed out these days.
But it would be a great shame if Dan didn’t widen his audience in spite of the evident market fragmentation that affects artists currently and the butterfly mentality of many record buyers.
Dan’s star will continue to rise later this year when he plays a one-off festival gig (www.enchantedfestival.co.uk) with his Network cohorts after a successful try-out in the USA on New Year’s Eve. He also mentioned tonight the prospect of more DRN gigs in 2014.
But acoustic or electric, pared-down or ramped up, Dan Reed shows how it should be done: with grace, humility and quality craftsmanship. A timely reminder of proper music.
Review, interview and photos by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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