Dan Reed and Danny Vaughn have hit on a winning formula with their ‘Snake Oil and Harmony’ shows, this being a third tour since 2015. The premise is simple – just these two talented singers perched on stools with their acoustic guitars, supporting each other on the best of their work, together with stories behind the songs and natural humorous banter (in the best sense of the term).
Given this natural chemistry and the fact that their principal bands Dan Reed Network and Tyketto circulated a similar musical orbit in the early nineties, it is remarkable to think the two only got to know each other as recently as Download in 2014.
There were few changes to the format this time round – though perhaps a touch less chat and fewer covers than I recall. What does alter, from night to night, let alone tour to tour, is an improvised setlist, ensuring that every show is different, and this was reflected in their song choices.
Of course they are proud of the songs that brought them their greatest success, so there were familiar oldies in Dan Reed Network’s ‘Rainbow Child’ – with a big singalong, and Tyketto’s ‘Wings’ sung in a slightly more downbeat fashion than the original, but a lot more besides.
Alongside old favourites like ‘Is That All There Is’, ‘Catch My Fall’ and ‘The Last Sunset’, Danny played two from Tyketto’s last album ‘Reach’ in ‘Letting Go’ and the title track, and a recently written track with Spaniards Burning Kingdom ‘I Will Wait No More Forever’, lyrically drawn from his love of Native American history.
The format suits both: the way acoustic and electric guitars intertwined in Tyketto set them apart from many of their contemporaries, while Dan has developed a very personal, spiritual writing style, evidenced on songs like ‘Distant Star’, though ‘Avalanche’ had a rhythmic groove that invited clapping along.
Introducing ‘On Your Side’, his anecdote about introducing Tibetan Monks to the world of sex drugs and rock n roll while on his own spiritual quest was one I heard before, but more priceless with every telling. The man is however fallible, gamely giving up halfway through when he realised he couldn’t fully remember fan request ‘The Rush’.
The respect each has for the other’s talents also seems to spur the other to greater heights – indeed after one of Dan’s confessionals in ‘Losing My Fear’, Danny asked how he could follow that, and there was only one song he could play in the ballad ‘Standing Alone’ whose emotional weight has made it a legendary song among Tyketto fans.
To date the collaboration has been a road-based one, but they played the first fruits of a writing partnership in ‘Where The Water Goes’, which with some close harmonies lost nothing alongside more established songs. The response would have left the two Dans in no doubt further new material from the pair would be welcome.
Waysted’s ‘Heaven Tonight’ had those of us older fans singing along with Danny, as this had been our first encounter with him, but it was the DRN classics that sparked the most joyous singalongs – ‘Tiger In A Dress’ and ‘Ritual’, before a stunning conclusion to the evening when the ever versatile Danny bravely carried off a great version of Queen’s ‘Love Of My Life’.
A two hour show had fairly flown by before a curfew meant just one encore, Dan claiming the honours with ‘Get To You’ and getting off of his stool for the only time to orchestrate audience participation.
The only blemish on the evening was that, despite being Saturday night at a Central London venue, the crowd was relatively small and a fraction of the number drawn to DRN or Tyketto shows. Those who appreciate the very special talents of their main men, or indeed anyone who appreciates the art of songwriting, should not miss what hopefully will be future instalments of this intimate and fun format.
Review and Photos by Andy Nathan
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Power Plays w/c 14 May 2018
ANDY SUSEMIHL Dinosaurs (SM Noise Records)
4TH LABYRINTH This Is Rock N Roll (indie)
PERFECT PLAN Gone Too Far (Frontiers)
SPACE ELEVATOR Keep Waiting (SPV)
TRACEY BROWNE Hit The Road Running (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 14 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 PRAYING MANTIS Gravity (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 MASS When 2 Worlds Collide (Escape Music)
14:00-16:00 TRACEY BROWNE The Doctrine Of Song (indie)
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
18:00-19:00 RIVER CITY PEOPLE – Say Something Good (1989)
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