Resurrected after an absence of thirty years, Dawn After Dark picked up where they left off at the Academy on Friday night with a frantic, adrenaline charged forty minutes performed in front of many of the same faces who resolutely supported the band all those years ago. Rarely does an opening act taking the stage at 7.30 get such a response and DAD seemed blown away by the welcome that awaited them on the first of Balaam & The Angel’s two night stand at the Academy 2.
Lead singer Howard “H” Johnson and drummer Tony Henderson were joined by new faces in the reunited line-up with Tony’s son Felix on bass and guitarists Russ Frame and John Wilcox. Launching into the thumping rhythm of “Crystal High” the set moved chronologically through their brief recorded output and also encompassed some unreleased gems with every one greeted like a long lost friend. The crowd even managed to construct a human pyramid (a staple of DAD shows in the late 80’s) for a minute or two before, inevitably, it came wobbling down; nevertheless, still a mighty fine achievement given the passing of time.
There might be a lot less hair flying about but H is still a vibrant frontman and his delivery is spot on as he leads the band through “Is There Time?”, a ballad with a psychedelic undercurrent, followed by the venomous “No Shame”. Never bleak enough for the Goth scene but not slick enough for the Hair Metal craze, DAD always seemed to fall between two stools; musically they were built on an assault of riffs and attitude and had they been dealt a different hand then hard edged anthems “Truth and Freedom” and “When Will You Come Home To Me” would have won them many fans. Both grinning and gurning his way through the set, Tony seemed delighted to be back playing the old songs and the added bonus of sharing a stage with his son must have made the evening all the more special.
Closing out with a frenzied “Maximum Overdrive”, DAD left the stage on a wave of nostalgia and emotion and feeling that maybe, just maybe, they might well be tempted to come back and do it all again in the not too distant future. Speaking to Midlands Rocks a few weeks ago H said he wanted to “find a way to present the songs in a way that is faithful to the people that came to see the band but also feel that I’m getting something out of them”. Mission well and truly accomplished.
Ghetto Gods & Go Go Gurus
Is There Time
Shifting Sands of Time
Truth and Freedom
When Will You Come Home To Me