Danny Vaughn and Dan Reed share a lot in common. Leaders of critically acclaimed bands at the turn of the decade (Tyketto and Dan Reed Network) who never quite had the mainstream success they deserved. People who quit the music scene for a while out of frustration at the business and politics.
Artists who have revived their careers and got back together with their original bands alongside respected solo careers. Artists with a personal storytelling style. Born a year apart and even sharing the first name. Yet apparently until last year when Tyketto and DRN played Download their paths had barely crossed.
This was an intriguing and indeed brave collaboration with a difference on the bizarrely titled Snake Oil and Harmony tour, in which they played an acoustic set together of each others songs. To get us in the mood there was also a short but impressive acoustic set from Bordello Rose or to be more accurate half of them, guitarist Dave Winkler who is a well-known face on the London melodic and glam rock scene and Liza Beck who played a variety of instruments from penny whistle to guitar.
Their voices intertwined well while ‘Jealousy’, with Liza’s sax solo, was the nearest we will get to witnessing the great Quarterflash in the UK. An acoustic cover of Maiden’s ‘Wasted Years’ was another great surprise.
Most of the Underworld crowd had seen both or at least either numerous times but were not prepared for an opener in ‘Baby Now I’ in which Dan’s singing was accompanied by Danny’s improvised guitar picking and harmonising over the top.
Yet that was one of relatively few occasions where they departed from the format of the evening, which was for each to take it in turns to sing one of their own songs with the other looking on and tapping along and adding the occasional harmony vocal rather than a duet as such.
Nevertheless, as with the best acoustic shows, this gave both an opportunity to explain the stories behind their songs and both are natural raconteurs. Dan had people is in stitches with tales of a Tibetan monk curious about the rhythm behind We Will Rock You, and Danny likewise with anecdotes about being brought face to face with Fin, the man he replaced in Waysted, as he played ‘Heaven Tonight’ and ‘Black and Blue’ from his days with Pete Way’s mob.
Indeed even without the music, this show would have been worth the admission for the comedy double act alone. Never mind the Two Ronnies, the two Dannies entertained us with a series of impressions of cartoon and film characters and running gags about being room mates and who wrote the more upbeat or more depressing songs.
Both were singing as well as ever in their differing styles, and the emphasis was more on their more personal solo material rather than the best known songs from their parent bands. Danny had crowd sourced requests in advance via social media and alongside old favourite ‘Is That All There Is’ and the Bon Jovi-influenced ‘Restless Blood’, it was great to hear some long-forgotten, rootsy songs like ‘Soldiers and Sailors on Riverside’ and ‘Paradise Ain’t Home’.
Dan’s material like ‘On Your Side’ was more laid back and reflective, though a rare DRN song in ‘Rainbow Child’ suited the format and had people singing along with big smiles on their faces and ‘Avalanche’ rocked the pace up a bit.
One occasion where they did combine unexpectedly was ‘Standing Alone’, usually Danny’s vocal tour de force with Tyketto but this time with Dan singing the verses, then they harmonised on a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘My Home Town’. Finally, they dropped in a couple of old favourites albeit in different format in ‘Get to You’ and Tyketto’s anthem ‘Forever Young’ that had people singing along lustily.
The encores saw Dan taking the lead with his brilliantly reimagined stripped down version of Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’ and the DRN song most suited to this format, the beautiful ‘Long Way to Go’.
This 2 hour plus gig was a very special occasion and though I first saw both artists over 25 years ago, I cannot remember a time when it was this fun, both for performer and audience. I hope this talented duo do it again, and to do so as part of a Dan Reed Network and Tyketto tour would be the icing on the cake.
Review and Photos by Andy Nathan
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DEEP PURPLE Slaves And Masters (1990)
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