Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall / MindHex Media
The final night of a U.K. tour with Extreme saw Dan Reed Network arrive in London and the opportunity to play at the prestigious Brixton Academy. With a huge groundswell in popularity since reforming and a critically well received album with ‘Fight Another Day’, the band have taken the opportunity to play really good sized venues and boost once more their unique brand of funk rock perfection.
The reports from the rest of the tour have been universally positive and with this, the final date on the tour, there was a sense of occasion and spectacle and with a stage big enough to give the band room to breathe and move around unrestricted, the Three Musketeers, Dan, Brion and Melvin made the most of every inch afforded to them.
With just 45 minutes and some 9 songs available, this was a set that needed to burst out of the gates and hit the ground running. Charging out and heading for the finishing line with a gallop would be a fair assessment of the fire and determination in the band, the only stutter coming as Melvin’s wireless set up for his bass faltered to be replaced by the old, faithful, audio lead back to his amp. With a mutual agreement that ‘wireless sucks’ and a return to the older, better, ways is the preferred option, the band were then off and there was no stopping them.
As we watch the interplay between Brion and Melvin we were even treated at one point to synchronised spinning of guitar \ bass around the neck. To say they play off each other would be an understatement. There’s almost a telepathic bond between the two that helps drive the show from the front. With Dan Reed then prowling stalking, dancing kicking and jumping, this was a show that the band could have pulled off at the height of their success in the early 1990s. If, 20 years later, they can show this much energy and passion about what they do, then great things are destined for Dan Reed Network in the very near future.
As you might imagine with Extreme also on the bill, the audience were more than willing to accept a little bit of funk rock and a generous slab of groove with their music and that is where DRN delivered in spades. Starting with ‘Cruise Together’ and ‘Under My Skin’, those that knew the band were immediately singing along, those that didn’t found very little reason not to join in from the off.
‘Forgot to Make Her Mine’ was then followed by a thunderous snippet of ‘Enter Sandman’ showing that the band really can ‘mix it up’ when they need to. ‘Baby Now I’ followed, reminding us just how good an album ‘The Heat’ was before they played their biggest hit to date ‘Rainbow Child’. Looking around the Academy, a mass of people were stood, eyes closed, heads back, singing along as one to the highly emotive track. A great sight to behold.
We were then treated to one of the tracks from the latest album from the band. Over 25 years in the making (well it was that long since ‘The Heat’ was released), ‘Champion’ from ‘Fight Another Day’, shows a band that has not only matured, looking at things affecting us all in the modern world but one that has also remembered what made them great to begin with and this captured the essence of old and new DRN perfectly.
With ‘Ritual’ from the eponymous debut album triggering a chant along of the ‘Woah-oh Hey-ah’ from the chorus, the band, over the course of the set, won over the crowd with ease. Pairing them with an Extreme crowd was a master stroke and one that should see them reap the benefits in the months that follow.
Closing with the song that put them on the map in the first place, ‘Get To You’, this was a triumphant set, one of the best DRN performances I’ve ever seen the band put on (and I’ve seen many!). If you missed them on this tour, kick yourself now or catch them when they return to the UK in the summer for (at least) Steelhouse Festival.
The full picture set from the concert can be found here:
Dan Reed Network, shot live at the O2 Academy, Brixton, December 20 2017. All pictures (C) Adrian Hextall MindHex Media.Dan Reed, Dan Pred, Melvin Brannon Jr., Rob Daiker, Brion James.
Under My Skin
Forgot to Make Her Mine (Preceded by snippet of “All of Me” by Ruth Etting)
Baby Now I (With “Enter Sandman” snippet by Metallica)
Make it Easy
Get to You