Review by Paul Quinton
With only a brief interval from the end of his joint tour with Danny Vaughn, under the ‘Snake Oil And Harmony’ banner, Dan Reed returned to the UK and played a single public show at the excellent Eleven Club in Stoke. Although it was originally billed as ‘Dan Reed And Friends’, it was actually a solo show, with Dan just accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar, and, although I don’t know how many were aware of this in advance of the show, it drew a good sized crowd on the night.
Dan is well known for making up set lists as he goes along, and although he stated he had a few songs he wanted to open the set with, it wasn’t long before he began taking requests from the crowd or letting songs suggest themselves as the set went on. The ‘structured’ part of the show opened with ‘Losing My Fear’, ‘Day 1’ and ‘Coming Up For Air’, all songs from his solo career, but it wasn’t long before he began taking requests and delving into the Network’s catalogue. The first of the latter, perhaps surprisingly to some, was one of the most popular of his songs, ‘Rainbow Child’, the kind of song most artists would keep for the big finish or an encore, but it’s interesting that he was more ambivalent about some of the other Network songs requested. ‘I’m So Sorry’ was shouted for, but he only sang a brief extract before stopping, saying that these days the lyrics sounded ‘silly’, but he was happy to get the crowd singing along with ‘Tiger in a Dress’, and an absolutely awesome ‘Cruise Together’, which for me was the highlight of the show.
As the show went on some of the requests became a lot more imaginative, and when Dan referred to Springsteen fans holding up requests on placards, some of the audience began doing the same with odd pieces of paper, flyers, and even beer mats or whatever came to hand. There was a birthday request for ‘Holy Diver’, which had originally been covered on the first Snake Oil tour, and it was interesting how the lyrics come over without the power of a full electric band behind them, then ‘Stronger Than Steel’ as usual got the crowd singing along, and ‘Mix It Up’, with Dan coming out from behind the mic to sing the lyrics unamplified from the front of the stage was another highlight.
Unfortunately, the early part of the gig suffered from a group at the back who were making a considerable amount of noise, even while the man was playing, but as the gig went on, the problem worsened, including one group, quite close to the stage, who began talking with ever increasing volume and intensity, so much so that Dan even paused ‘Closer’ to ask them if they were having a fight. This didn’t stop them, quite the opposite, all the way up to the point where he mused on his plans for the future, including taking 2019 off to spend some time with his son, at which point there was another yet squeal from someone apparently oblivious to what was happening on the stage a few feet away. This led to some muttering and shushing from the rest of the audience, and created a bit of an atmosphere for the rest of the show. A shame that something like should cast a shadow over what was otherwise a great evening.
The Dan Reed Network will be back in the UK for some festival shows, including Steelhouse and Cambridge, and we are promised another UK tour in the autumn before his year off. For all the issues with some of the audience, the the two hours of his set seemed to pass by in half the time, and whether as a solo artist, with a band or with The Network, he remains an endlessly fascinating and entertaining performer.