Dan Reed Network + Vega
Friday 10th March
The 100 Club, London
Truly placing our WRC cards on the table - we didn't really know what to expect last Friday at a sold out 100 Club in London's Oxford Street, as the Dan Reed Network continued their UK tour which concludes at Nottingham's Rescue Rooms tomorrow night. An American Hard Rock band that originally existed from 1984 for ten years and toured with the likes of The Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi - DRN were resurrected in 2013 culminating in the release of their acclaimed 'Fight Another Day' album in 2016.
Unfortunately our pre-gig audio interview with support band Vega did not materialise, although this was more than made up for by the voracity of their set. We originally introduced Vega to our website in January 2015 - although they originally formed in 2009 with four Melodic Rock/AOR albums now under their belts. Boasting the Martin brothers, James (keyboards) and Tom (bass), vocalist Nick Workman, Markcus Thurston (guitar) and Dan Chantrey (drums) - and with a performance at HRH AOR5 the following night night waiting in the wings - the band stormed through a tight and rocking set which included tracks ‘White Flag’, ‘Every Little Monster’, ‘Saving Grace’ and our former Vid Of The Day 'Stereo Messiah'. Vega had well and truly rocked the 100 Club and despite a distinct lack of photographer etiquette during the interval, all was to be forgotten as a result of an intoxicating DRN set!
Vocalist Reed, a hybrid of a sweaty Buster Bloodvessel with the facial expressions of Wilko Johnson, eased us in, or "starting slow" as Dan put it, with the groovy late 80's feel of 'Get To You' and the driving riff of 'Divided' from 'FAD', before the party really got going with Inglorious front man Nathan James joining Reed early doors for a blistering cover of Kiss classic 'Rock And Roll All Nite'. With fans from as far and wide as Norway and Italy in attendance, the network went into overdrive as the DRN faithful lapped up the energy plus the twists and turns of the set, which was no more evident than with 90's favourite 'Baby Now I', which included a classic mid-section medley of covers including Kiss's 'I Was Made For Lovin' You', Metallica's 'Enter The Sandman' and FGTH's 'Relax', before hatted bassist Melvin Brannon II smoothly stepped up to the mic with Earth Wind & Fire's 'Let's Groove'.
DRN's interaction with the audience was a joy to behold, with Reed occasionally thrusting his microphone into the crowd during songs, enticing vocal participation, plus high-fiveing and continual banter, including birthday celebrations and requesting what song the band should play next. Indeed the banter was so polished on stage, with an inevitable Trump gag running throughout the set, that when the band experienced a few technical gremlins and the consequent horse play - such as before 'Stronger Than Steel' - nobody was sure whether this was just part of the act!
The band dynamic is another jewel in the DRN crown. Reed's powerful voice, energy and charisma was complemented by four outstanding musicians who just ooze their love of live music. The ever-smiling dreadlocked lead guitarist Brion James, with a new album out, belying his 61 years, not only with stand-out guitar solo's on the amazing 'Stronger Than Steel', 'Rainbow Child' and 'FAD's awesome 'Champion', but also seamlessly took lead vocals on the funky reggae of 'Save The World' also from 'FAD' and not forgetting the brief 'Rikki Don't Lose That Number' - part of that Trump gag. As for the excellence of the engine room - Brannon, currently working with Booker T. - is one cool dude, whether it's his bass, vocals or banter - whilst drummer and DRN video director Dan Pred was party to perhaps the most moving anecdote on the night - Reed's recollection of them both listening as teenager's to Rush - cue Pred's short tribute to Peart. Finally, keyboard player Rob Daiker - the relative baby of DRN, also with a new album out - has no doubt added a new dimension to the band - for example, not only the characteristic '80's opening vibe on 'Ritual', but also with guitar in hand, as he sang his own composition 'All For A Kiss'.
A memorable evening, that those present did not want to end, was brought to a close by the A capella 'Long Way To Go' - with the DRN and the 100 Club punters all singing in union - a fitting finale. To be perfectly honest - we are all still buzzing after last Friday and it was a real privilege to witness and enjoy a gig that I doubt will be bettered this year. As the saying goes - form is temporary - class is permanent. Just can't wait to see these guys again.