DANNY VAUGHN @ Eleven, Stoke-on-Trent, Friday 2nd December 2022

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Reviewed by Paul Quinton

It seems to be a regular thing in this post-Covid world to be looking for tickets that were bought anything up to three years before the gig was rescheduled, but this Danny Vaughn show wasn’t exactly like that. Although this was the rescheduling of a tour that had to be abandoned in the last few days before the first lockdown, that tour was originally supposed to include both Danny Vaughn and Dan Reed, promoting their collaboration album, Snake Oil and Harmony. But when the dates were re-arranged, Dan Reed was already committed to a film project, so, almost desperate to go back out on the road, Danny Vaughn decided he would do a solo tour, entitled the Vaughnsday Tour. During the lockdowns, he’d done a series of online shows from his home in Spain, mostly on Thursdays, and which became to be known as ‘Vaughnsdays’, hence the name of the tour. Although there have been supports at some of the other gigs, the Eleven show would be a genuinely solo show. There was no fanfare or introduction when Danny came on stage, in fact it was a few moments before a lot of the crowd noticed he was there, but as soon as he started playing, he pretty much had the crowd on his side, and indeed, in the palms of his hands for all the 100+ minute set that followed.

With the sad passing of Christine McVie having been announced in the previous 24 hours, he began with a brief excerpt of ‘Don’t Stop’, before going into the first of the Tyketto favourites ‘Wings’. In his Vaughnsday shows, he made a point of playing requests, and kept that up for this tour, inviting fans to ask for songs at particular shows. He did joke that it had made things more difficult, with around 90 songs being suggested overall, apart from the obvious ones, but it also had the effect of making every show on the tour different. As it happened, who ever had requested ‘Wings’ was unable to make the show, which was a shame, but the song went down really well nonetheless.

The rest of the set was a terrific mix of Tyketto songs, his solo work, a couple from the Snake Oil project, including the awesome ‘Point The Way’, played for one of the audience who had been ill recently, and what seems to have become a fixture in Danny’s solo sets in recent years, a song from Save Your Prayers, the Waysted album he did with UFO’s Pete Way and Paul Chapman, ‘Heaven Tonight’. Most of the songs were accompanied by memories of their recording, the background that inspired the song or people to whom the song meant a lot. Some of the anecdotes were very personal, as for the Tyketto song ‘Let This One Slide’, which Danny dedicated to original Tyketto guitarist Brooke St James, who became seriously ill after a very severe attack of Covid. Mercifully, Brooke’s on the mend and is even recording new music.

Apart from the special circumstances of playing ‘Don’t Stop, he’d made a point of not doing covers on this tour, although in my own humble opinion, he’s an exceptional interpreter of other people’s songs, but he did do one at this show, although there is a tenuous connection to Tyketto, Extreme’s ‘Whole Hearted’, which had come up at one of the online shows. There were also some hints at the future, with a Tyketto tour of the UK set for next Spring, and on Danny discovering that John Corabi had recently played a solo show at Eleven, he offered the possibility of them doing some shows together under the Snake Oil banner.

Despite the fact that he was suffering from what he called his inevitable cold whenever he sets foot in the UK, his warning that his voice might be suffering a little seemed groundless to the great majority of the crowd, even in songs like ‘Standing Alone’, although he did have a healthy supply of tissues nearby, even passing one or two to members of the crowd when the emotions in the set became a little too strong. It finished with the rousing ‘Shadow of King John, from his Myths, Legends and Lies’ album and the inevitable ‘Forever Young’ to close, as good a set finisher as you could imagine.

He’s still one of the best yet most underrated singers on the scene, and his solos shows are always a pleasure, warm, emotional, packed with great music and stories. As and when he plays some more, it would be well worth seeing him.