Words and Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media
Billed as a ‘unique intimate setting’, a solo acoustic show at St Pancras Old Church is perhaps the perfect night out when you want to simply forget all of your troubles and escape the daily grind for a couple of hours. It’s the ultimate feelgood movie just without the bump in the middle of the plot where it goes wrong only for everything to reconcile by the time the closing credits roll.
A man of much experience when it comes to playing an acoustic guitar, Dan Reed returned to the music scene after a lengthy hiatus that gave him a completely fresh outlook on life and with a demeanour that simply shows how much he once more loves what he’s doing it’s helped him release 4 solo albums since 2010. The latest ‘Confessions’ is why we all stepped into the beautiful and old building that is St Pancras Old Church.
Check out the link to Google Street view below to see just why this building is such a unique music venue:
Once inside the church, the atmosphere is quiet and wholly respectful. Whatever your religion, even if you don’t have a faith, the assembled crowd showed complete respect for the venue and Dan as he played without backing music and any talking, other than to cheer after each song, would have simply ruined the moment. The responses from the crowd after songs also reflected where we were. Little or no swearing, with Dan at one point even commenting that he felt like it wasn’t appropriate to swear in a church blaming it on his Catholic upbringing with a laugh. What the church did bring to the occasion was acoustics. The huge stone hall decked out with seating for the congregation at the front and more standing room at the back was hooked up to an amazing PA and with the sound man (having worked with Airbourne amongst others) knowing exactly how to get the best out of the system, the audio was at an almost studio level quality.
The set was a game of two halves. The first allowing Dan to reflect on the music he’s made since he returned to writing and performing again and the latter an opportunity for the fans to pick and choose some classics from both early and current Dan Reed Network material with a few surprises thrown in.
During the first hour, Dan revisited his debut solo release from 2010, ‘Coming Up For Air’ and commented on the support he received that (I think) convinced him that he’d made the right decision to start performing once more. A thought provoking release and one that allows you to step out of the fast lane for a while. Hearing some of the songs played in the church followed by Dan’s heartfelt appreciation that fans had welcomed him back drew a sea of smiles and cheers. It was safe to say he was amongst friends for the evening !
The odd cover was thrown in and a haunting version of Elvis’ ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ drew huge cheers from the crowd and a desire to sing along (which got me a few looks from people nearby so I stopped – it was a fair point! ). Religion was discussed, not in the sense of who is wrong and who is right, which religion has the correct views etc.. but more about the spiritual side, the ability for people of all nations and religions to be able to come together peacefully. You wonder at times if Dan shouldn’t become a U.N. envoy, helping broker peace between say the Israeli’s and the Palestinians. I sense he’d probably do a better job than some of the current officials out there.
When the second round of songs begins and the audience offer suggestions, nothing is too much trouble. Choices are noted, accents and incorrect titles are overcome with a laugh and then he carried on again. One of my personal favourites from the ‘Signal Fire’ album ‘All I Need Is You’ was given the acoustic treatment and sounded magnificent, with the vocals and the guitar bouncing off the walls of the church providing warmth and depth.
Not surprisingly, the remainder of the show saw Dan play many of the Network hits and ‘Rainbow Child’, ‘Stronger Than Steel’ and more received hugely enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. The show was being filmed so fans who were unable to attend the sold out event will be able to see what it was all about later this year.
Closing the show with a great version of ‘Tiger In A Dress’, a song Dan (given the lyrical content) admitted he never thought he’d play live in a church, the two hours finished.
Sometimes it really is nice to simply step off the conveyor belt of life for a couple of hours. Dan Reed Network, with their electric shows bring the energy, soul and funk to an event and re-energise the body after a tough day at work. Dan Reed with his acoustic shows enables you to re-charge the soul and forget about all that’s wrong in this messed up world right now. Occasionally, that’s exactly what we need.