About 18 months ago I saw Dan Reed at the Union Chapel in London performing a blinding acoustic set. Not having been familiar with him at the time, it soon became obvious that I had missed out on a great artist. What a voice, amazing lyrics and what a smile, it brightened up the whole church and made that a very special evening.
That was it, I was hooked!
So, when the announcement appeared that Dan is playing at Camden’s Underworld we just had to get tickets, especially as I love his new album ‘Signal Fire‘ that was released in February, “All I Need Is You” being my favourite at the moment.
Arriving at the Underworld it is already open, doors opened at 6pm which is unusual, usually doors are opened at 7pm. It doesn’t matter though, not many people have arrived yet so we take a space at stage right. I like the Underworld, the place has character, but to be honest, I don’t think I want to see it in proper light it might just have a little too much character…hehhehehehe. I noticed that the metal strip was broken and sticking up slightly, I was likely to trip up on this. A guy appears on stage, I ask him if he has any gaffer tape so we could tape it down, but no was the answer. Surely gaffer tape is present on every stage………..? I go off to find another responsible person, the young girl I got hold of was Sarah and she was very sweet, went backstage and organised some tape. Once everything was nicely secured the show could begin as far as I was concerned.
There are 2 support bands tonight, the first band on stage was ‘Boomin‘, three guys from Wigan formed in 2006, their debut album ‘Original Junkie‘ was released last August. I had no idea what to expect, but from the first song I liked them. Catchy tunes, fantastic stage presence, amazing voices. Bassist Rory displayed a lot of silliness but it only added to their performance. The song “Kill The DJ” nailed it, the Underworld wasn’t packed yet but the people that were there got carried away with the energy conveyed from the stage. Towards the end of the set, Mr.Edd the drummer came to the mic in the front, I think he felt left out stuck right at the back. A little chat and he started off the next song, and you know what, I was totally blown away, I just didn’t expect that amazing voice to come out of this guy, fantastic, and I loved the song too. Halfway through the song he ran back to his drumkit whilst the guitarist took over the singing. These guys are brilliant, in fact so brilliant I went straight after to buy their album. I also managed to grab the set list, and while doing so bumped into Brian, we have met up a couple of times before at ‘Pains of Jena’ and ‘The Von Herzen Brothers’. Love it when you bump into fellow gig-goers.
The next band on stage was ‘Sons of Icarus‘, judging by the size of the speakers, they were Marshall amps (very Spinal Tap), that got dragged onto the stage we assumed it’s going to be loud! Earplugs at the ready!!
Hmm, the guys are putting a lot of effort into their set, I don’t quite feel they are a well chosen support band, as the front man said:” ….we will stick out like a sore thumb”. The music isn’t quite for me and a bit too loud. Some of the songs are quite good, especially the last one, otherwise it is sounding a little samey to me. Sorry guys, you didn’t quite do it for me.
Finally it’s time for the man himself! Mr. Dan Reed arrives on stage, with that lovely big smile of his. The room has filled up now, people wearing Dan Reed t-shirts edging closer to the stage, cameras at the ready. A tiny women manages to push herself right in front of Dan, good for her, she wouldn’t have seen anything otherwise.
Dan starts with my fav song “All I need Is You“, perfect, looking around it isn’t only me that is immediately captivated, I see happy faces singing along, oh yes there are a lot of fans in the audience. A couple more songs from the new album, “Signal Fire” and “Only Love” before another favourite “Coming Up For Air”….and just to make sure he has everybody’s attention “Rainbow Child”, a track from the formerly known ‘Dan Reed Network’ era. I love the energy that comes from the stage, Dan can’t stop smiling, just enough banter in between and he is also making sure every single band member gets included in his glory. For instance the introduction to bassist Karl Sweeney from Liverpool (I hope I got the name right), not only is he playing a 6 string instrument but only had 48 hours to learn the songs as he was roped in to cover for the original bassist who couldn’t be here. Karl even gets his own little spot of fame, Dan asks him to take the place in front of the microphone and he performs a cover of ‘Paul Simon’s’ “You Can Call Me Al” beautifully, while dan displays some rather smooth dance moves ;-). On another occasion Dan lets the drummer have his solo (amazing by the way, I love a drum solo), he kneels down to make sure everybody gets a good view.
Somebody in the crowd shouts: “..you are the man…”, Dan smiles and replies: “I hope I am, last time I looked I was…:-)” there are more funny little anecdotes, like when he broke his string and carried on playing regardless: ” ok, so he (meaning Karl) is playing with 6 strings and I have 4″. Dan tells us about the man who died just a few day’s ago, I didn’t quite catch his name, but I assume he was a techie or promoter, always the first on the set and the last to leave, giving more than 100% every time, “this song is for him” Dan says, “…no, the whole tour is for him” he corrects himself.
There is one amazing song after another, “Stronger Than Steel” another Dan Reed Network track, “Closer” and “Loosing My Fear” from the ‘Coming Up For Air’ Album. Every single song is performed with such passion and conviction, you feel that Dan Reed is at peace with himself, signs of tai-chi while performing and references to his own journey in his songs mainly. Written in a way that you can either just hear a lovely love song or something just a little bit more, deeper and more poignant to the world around us. Many of his songs have a much deeper message which will only become clear after intensively listening to the lyrics. I’m in total awe of this man, not only an amazing musician, a lovely human being, but also able to conveying his message with lyrics written so beautifully that it is up to the individual what you take from it. Two encores later, finishing with “Cruise Together” I’m left with a warm happy feeling, an amazing gig, loved every minute of it. Dan also announced his only reunion show for ‘Dan Reed Network’ in the UK at the ‘Enchanted Festival’ in Chelmsford, apparently only about 450 places. I would so love to go, but right now my purse is just not allowing it 😦
We hang around for a little while, hoping Dan will come and meet the fans, and it doesn’t take long for him to appear. People stop him on the way to the Merch table, and when he finally gets through, he is more than willing to sign CD’s and pose for photo’s, and yes, I got both.
Dan Reed, thank you for tonight, it was amazing. 🙂