Yet another brief tour that didn’t include a Midlands date, in fact Sheffield was the most southerly gig, as Tyketto singer Danny Vaughn played a short series of solo, acoustic gigs prior to going out on the road with the Ultimate Eagles. If I had to draw up a list of my favourite melodic rock singers, Danny would undoubtedly be in the top 5, if not in the Top 2, it’s a genuine mystery why he’s never had the success his talent deserves, even if Tyketto’s debut, ‘Don’t Come Easy’ is one of the most revered melodic rock albums of all time, although he’s still one of a very short list of artists that would entice me to Grimsby on a wet Good Friday. Still it was good to tick off a new venue, and Yardbirds did turn out to be a pretty good venue, a proper rock club with no curfew nonsense.
First up for tonight’s gig was Matt Black, who’s lately taken over from Tony Mills in Serpentine. Performing solo, with a set that included covers, including some interesting takes on Def Leppard, and his own songs, he was able to show what a really promising talent he is, with an absolutely terrific voice for AOR. He’ll be playing at Birmingham’s Roadhouse with his own band on May 5th and with Serpentine, as part of the Ten tour on May 30th.
Craig MacDonald has been working with Danny Vaughn in Gibraltar since the latter moved there and now there was a chance for UK audiences to hear him in action. His songs are individual, but highly melodic, and it would be fascinating to hear them played by a proper band, especially as his voice put me in mind of Harry Hess on occasion. Most of the crowd gave him a fair hearing, although at times it was a struggle to make himself heard.
As ever on these occasions, Danny Vaughn had promised to delve into the further reaches of what he said with mock horror, was his ‘back catalogue’, but when he can pull out songs and a performance as good as this, he can do it as often as he likes. Opening with Tyketto’s Walk On Fire was conventional enough, as was following it with That’s What She Says from ‘Traveller’. But then we got the superb Light Years, which was originally recorded on the second ‘From The Inside’ album, which, again, is a song I would love to hear played live by a full band. Between songs, Danny gave us some memories and stories behind each song, and spoke about joining Waysted and recording vocals on songs originally done by Fin Moore, and to the delight of everyone who remembers that band, Fin himself came out to duet on Heaven Tonight. Fin’s voice is still in great shape, even if his memory of the lyrics was a bit shaky.
After that, it was old favourites, including the likes of Haunted, Million Miles of Road and The End Of The Summer Days, interspersed with some genuine surprises, such as I Want To Get to Know You, the ‘hidden’ track from ‘Soldiers and Sailors on Riverside’, and Avalon, a track from Gary Hughes ‘King Arthur’ project, which could fit easily onto any Tyketto album. Toward the end of the set, Craig MacDonald came out to duet on his own song Rain and a cover of the Doobie Brothers’ Listen To The Music, before the main set ended with Tyketto’s Burning Down Inside. As ever, the encore was Forever Young, which sounds just as emotional and majestic as it did on ‘Don’t Come Easy’, and would always get my vote for melodic rock’s national anthem, and which brought to an end 100 minutes of superb music.
Two things struck me about this gig. Firstly, that, while everyone should know by now that Danny Vaughn is an absolutely superb singer, his guitar playing is often overlooked, which is unfair. Particularly on an acoustic, he really is worth listening to. Secondly, this was a show over an hour and a half long, with some material that probably wasn’t familiar to a lot of the crowd, and with no other sound but voice and acoustic guitar, and yet the set passed by in a flash and left you wanting to hear more. One of those evenings where it was a privilege and a pleasure to be there.