Review By Woody, photos by Rob Stanley
It has been a long time since Danny Vaughn ventured to the Black Country for a gig, and I’ve been excited about this one since it was announced, especially as he is playing my favourite venue, The Robin. I had worried that attendance may have been affected with Danny playing the HRH AOR Festival just a few days before, so it was great to see a decent crowd gather for one of the best voices in melodic rock.
First up are Brummies Lovebite, who are riding high on the positive feedback for their album ‘Locked & Loaded’, not least from certain members of the Midlands Rocks team. Having seen the band before, I wasn’t impressed with the vocals, but was keen to give the band another listen.
On paper I should love these guys; they play glam rock which veers more towards melodic rock rather than the rawer sleaze edge that their image implies. However, they failed to move me tonight. They are full of rock star swagger and attitude, but they really need to write some killer tunes to match.
I’ve seen Danny Vaughn live more times than I have had hot dinners and he never fails to entertain – bad nights just aren’t his thing! Vaughn has always managed to keep an active live presence whether it be solo or with Tyketto. Hard work and stunning performances no doubt have added to his popularity.
Danny has assembled a new band around him for this solo tour, which Vaughn informs us is to support the re-release of his first two solo records. Joining Danny is Ged Rylands on keyboards and guitars. Ged went from keys to guitar flawlessly and added some great backing to Danny’s performance, a very talented musician and it’s great to have him back in the melodic rock scene. Thunder’s Chris Childs fills the bass slot, and whilst he’s not an overly engaging performer, he is the flawless backbone to the band along with impressive young scot Dave McLusky on drums. Guitarist Jon Sudbury complements the lineup, knowing when to go for the crunch or to hold back depending on the flavour of whichever song is played.
Vaughn is probably one of the greatest front men I’ve ever witnessed and tonight is no exception. Despite being tired from a long weekend at HRH AOR, he turned in an awesome performance. I like how naturally he can flick between being a strong hair tossing mic stand wielding rocker, and being just at ease with his acoustic guitar. A lot of Danny’s music is acoustic based which lends a flavour to make him different from other bands I enjoy. The sound was spot on and in some ways this was probably the best I’ve heard him.
A passionate performer, he connects well with his fans, embracing them as friends with a familiar attitude which really endears people to him, making his shows quite intimate. His appreciation of his fans comes across as very genuine and heartfelt.
We were treated to ‘Bad Water’, ‘Badlands Rain’, ‘Restless Blood’, ‘Fly Away’ and ‘The Voice’. There was some really cool uplifting moments like ‘Just Like That’ and ‘Always’ from Danny’s pure AOR project ‘From the Inside’, which was beautiful. ‘Was There A Moment’ has a real drive and emotion that never fails to grip me live, and Sudbury does a spot on job with those crunching guitar riffs!
One of the best crowd reactions of the evening actually came for ‘The Warrior’s Way’ which was a song written for the live arena and it’s easy to hear why this song is so well loved. Danny has always been a songwriter who tries to think outside the box and throw a few songs into the mix which may seem a little odd or perhaps not fit in with the other album tracks; one of these songs is ‘Carry Me Home’. He introduces the song as a personal favourite and although it’s a song he’s never had a fan say they love or connect with, it’s still a song he’s most proud of. I think the song is more popular than he thinks and I hope the response from the crowd tonight made him realise that.
Vaughn closes the set with a bang and probably one of his most popular solo sing along’s ‘Is That All There Is’. He introduces it with a wry smile and tells us the origins of the song and how many of his fans connect with it and states we must have all have had some fooked up relationships! Yeah tell me it about it! Whilst lyrically quite a dark song it does finish the night on a high with a chorus of fans singing every word back at Danny.
I was shocked Danny didn’t play melodic rock anthem ‘Forever Young’ in his encore, I can’t remember the last time he omitted it, but one of the great things about a Vaughn set list is you never know what you’re going to get!
I came out of the Robin thinking ‘BEST GIG EVER’! And I fooking love that feeling! Hopefully Danny will be back again in the future and maybe with Tyketto too. Now he knows how awesome we are…
Literally an hour after showtime Danny Vaughn posted this on Facebook – and before the cynical amongst say ‘yeah, yeah I bet he did this after every gig’ he didn’t and not like this…
Sometimes, your hard work pays off and something special happens. Monday night in Bilston, Robin 2 sounded a lot like Saturday night to me. The band played our best gig yet, the spirit of the fans moved me to push beyond the hoarseness, the guys were note perfect and I have rarely felt quite as powerful or emotional on stage. Thank you, each and every one. – Danny Vaughn
See more of Rob’s photos here;