Facebook, Bikers, a hobo, and a full English breakfast; not your usual material for a live review but all will be revealed as the Bailey Brothers spend some pleasurable time in the company of Dan Reed.
I must admit I thought Facebook was just for kids but when Mick called me and said “hey guess who I was speaking to today? Gene Simmons of Kiss” I knew that it would soon become a valuable tool for hooking up with old friends in the business. Dan Reed contacted Mick through his Facebook site and told us about the UK tour and asked us if we could set up a gig in Sheffield. It was very short notice but he managed to pull off a gig at the Corporation which would be the last show in England.
Sunday night and it’s pissing it down - not the ideal scenario to drag fans into a venue when it’s the dreaded Monday morning back at work but there’s a good crowd assembled to the delight of manager Mark.
We hooked up with Dan before the show which by the way is an acoustic set, just one man a guitar and keyboard. The last time we met was in the 90’s when The Dan Reed Network played one of the best live shows we have ever seen at the Nottingham Rock City.
The Dan Reed Network were just a breath of fresh air, a totally different vibe, multi cultural and multi talented with a unique blend of rock, funk and a tad of jazz but with soulful ballads, cool guitar riffs, and a charismatic singer/front man who commanded the entire theatre.
“I knew as soon as I assembled that band it would cause a stir especially in the USA” said Dan in his dressing room.
Dan Reeds response was to shave off all his hair (before it was fashionable) and eventually disappear into the wilderness.
“I didn’t like all the superficial shit and needed to step back from it”
He told us back stage as we scratched the surface to see if there was any glimpse of a Dan Reed Network reunion?
Apparently one of the former members is in Honduras and loving it and although Dan speaks to the other guys once in a while, reading between the lines you’ve probably more chance of seeing England win the world cup than seeing that awesome band live again, not because there’s any animosity apparent but Dan Reed has definitely moved on musically and spiritually from that era. It’s maybe a job for Bruce Mee and the Firefest team?
We recommend you grab the Live At last! Half Way Round The world a double CD Released in 1997 through Dan Pred's video production company Videomedia
Dan Pred (DRN drums) and Blake Sakamoto (DRN keyboards ) collated live recordings from all over the world and the disc will give you a fair representation of how awesome this band were live. A live video of the New Year's Eve Portland Show in 1991 was also released as 'Live At Last'.
DRN split before recording their 4 th album and Dan seemed to walk in the sand and leave no trace of a footprint musically.
Choosing to have a night club seemed to divert his attention from his talent as a singer/ songwriter, he sort of lost his way, and he was drinking heavy and got into substance abuse. He however did show his acting and directing talents (Zigzag) but thankfully after many years travelling and discovering new horizons and ventures such as living in Indiaand JerusalemDanReed finally turned to his first love music and this time around we have the opportunity to share an intimate acoustic evening.
It was interesting to see him write his set list just 15 minutes before going on stage. “I like to absorb the city and get a feel for the place before I decide what songs to put in the set” he also explained how he liked to always change the set around for each show which is cool, as a few fans from the Bury gig had also turned up in Sheffield, so at least not a repeat show for them.
Minutes before going on stage he handed Mick a huge wedge of money to look after for him whilst he was on stage. (Well he had to do something to stop Mick taking snap shots).
No backing tape, no introduction, it could have been a roadie stepping up to the mike but casually with a smile on his face he greets the fans and opens with an unfamiliar song to us called “Pray for The Rain” (Pray For The Rain: Unreleased - Not on any format Demoed by Dan Reed for the 4th album 1993 - Well that’s the info we obtained from the cool www.Sevensistersroad.com site and we are gonna take their word for it.)
Cruise Together was up next a song, found on DRN’s 1989 album “Slam” back on familiar territory then? No; because the original song was hinged around a solid bass line from Melvin Brannon, the funk mystro whose bass sound was so deep the whales would beg for mercy at the bottom of the ocean. The vocal however is as true as it was in the 80’s and 90’s everything stripped down to a few chords and totally organic, they always say “a good song will stand up even played on an acoustic guitar” who the f… they are remains a mystery but on this occasion it’s true.
Dan the man is quite an accomplished player with his Taylor sponsored guitar that he was showing off back stage with it’s built in pickups and luscious tone.
The audience was appreciative at hearing a DRN song in what ever format. It’s been too long a coming but it’s the new songs that will stand up and be counted tonight.
First up “She’s Not You”,a song that will feature on the new album “ComingUp For Air” due out around July (we believe). It’s a moving song based on relationships at a guess? We wouldn’t want to misinterpret it on one listen but lyrics like” I’m taking your picture down for good or at least I should” could relate to seeing your ex partners face on the wall but then again it could be the removal men stating the obvious moving house? I think we’ll go for the love song and it’s well executed, a nice melody line in the verses on the guitar with heavier chords strummed with vigour through the chorus to add some dynamics.
“Coming Up for Air” is the title of the forth coming album and it’s up next, Dan shows a good sense of rhythm on the guitar, with hammer on’s to the strings to add interest to the underlined chord sequence, This is sort of Bob Dylanesque with the opening line of “This city loves to eat its young with skyscraper teeth and a concrete tongue”
Any resemblance vanishes as Reed expresses his vocals with a soulful but powerful delivery and he resolves the chorus with a cool line that goes “I’m saving the sunlight in your eyes for all these rainy days”.
There will come a time I’m sure when most of Dan Reed's set will be filled with new songs with probably only “Rainbow Child” surviving because of it’s uniqueness and undated sound and that will be a shame as even in their most raw form the classics still sound refreshing stripped naked to the bone. Like wounded soldiers they are summoned up one by one to face the executioners, die hard fans yearning for a DRN comeback they gallantly hold their ground and live to fight another day.
“Rainbow Child” We have to say Rainbow Child (Slam album 1989) stood out simply because the vocal was so reminiscent of the album, it was like sitting in the living room with the headphones on. It’s a shame all the set wasn’t like that because that’s the down side of acoustic sets, just because there’s no frigin Marshall stack peeling your inner ear lining off and you can talk doesn’t mean you should whilst the man is performing. I find that very working men’s club standard and just a bit disrespectful to the artist but because we hail from Sheffield inevitably we get drawn into it just by being polite as Shut the F… up I’m trying to listen, doesn’t win you many friends but at least you hear the damn gig.
We did however discover from Dale the vocalist with Crimes and Passion that they are four songs into their new album and the artwork should follow on in the cartoon style inner sleeve notes which were really well put together on their debut.
It’s not just what you play that makes a show, it’s also what you do in between songs. Dan Reed’s presentation was excellent, especially when he casually tells you about his experience of living in the holy land of Jerusalem and the unrest between the Palestinians’ and the Israeli’s. He relates it as an outsider looking in, pondering the thought that all sides including the Christians’ are probably praying to the same god at different times of the day but from behind the same Western Wall : sometimes referred to as the Wailing Wall or simply the Kotel.
These journeys have helped him to re-evaluate his whole life and truly write from the heart and not from the groin as maybe we all did in the 80’s. “Promise Land” is a little gem unearthed, performed with passion and a hope for a peaceful end to the conflict (nice thought bro spread the word). Lyrically this is one of the strongest songs on offer, an acoustic guitar and a voice is all that was required tonight.
Reed often changed tuning which helped to add interest to On Your side which had a clever melodic undertone for an unusual, if somewhat too low opening vocal line for the verse. It had it’s moments but didn’t live up to the guitar lick. Lyrically though, it was still well thought out but probably a bit too close to Promise Land to stand out. There’s one moment though where he breaks into a falsetto style vocal and adds some inflections that make the hair stand out on the back of your neck.
The DRN songs still held their own such as Lover, others included Stronger Than Steel,The Salt Of Joy, and Ritual, a surprise contender for best on the night, who would have thought you could deliver that heavy cool funky ditty without a fork lift truck? But again Dan Reed is right on the button in terms of delivery, the up shot of this acoustic feast is yes, Dan Reed is back where he belongs on stage playing to his fans and writing and performing new songs. It’s not a fall down from grace, ok it’s not Wembley stadium but he’s happy, he’s selling albums, meeting friends and the only baggage he’s carrying is his guitar, clothes and CD’s. One cool new song is called Brave New World which is about bringing peace but through the barrel of a gun. Well my friends, he’s a brave man to tread the boards alone, stand or fall with nowhere to hide, this has been Dan Reed live and yet again a very memorable and enjoyable occasion. What ever you do don’t miss him in your town and look out for his album titled “Coming Up for Air” due this summer.
If we had to score the gig it would come in at around 8/10.
After the show he must have met everyone who stayed or cared in the flesh, signing swag and drumming up some much needed funs for yet some more adventures or maybe breakfast the next day with the Bailey’s as we arranged to hook up.
We met up at his hotel which had already closed for breakfast, we ended up walking up Dixon Lane, a nostalgic road for the Bailey’s and the Sheffield rock fans who have shared many a memorable night at Rebels Rock club. Half way up we bumped into a tramp in a doorway with a blooded nose either from a drunken fall or a kick in. Dan asked the guy if he was ok? He said he was hungry, Dan reached for his wallet and gave the stranger £7(sterling) I thought that was a nice touch and £6 more than I would have gave him (but I am from Yorkshire). We found a pub and not to be labelled tight I bought the full English breakfast. Dan talked about the tour and how much he had enjoyed it, the night before he was in Grimsby at a venue run by bikers called “The Yardbirds Club”, one dude said to him “hey man you almost brought me to tears (slight pause) Mutha f…er", he then asked how he was getting to Sheffield? Dan said by train “No you’re not” said the bikers, they sent for a car and drove him all the way to Sheffield.
Seems like a good venue and crowd - we will drop in at some point. Dan told us he was planning a London show, I think around October/November time with a full band and a full on tour again in February. He’s also moving out of New York as its way too hectic and fast, choosing Paris as his next residence. I’m not sure what the French way of life will bring to the plate (apart from snails). We talked about recording studios and he seemed keen on hooking up for a track on the Bailey Brothers next big recording project which will be our 30th anniversary album, a double CD full of new songs but with many established artists that you know and love, we will let you know when it’s on its' way?
Dan is ready to approach recording in a different way the next time around. “Before we have always demoed the songs too much and gone for perfection, you can do a song too many times and loose the edge, so this time I’m going to start laying vocals and acoustic guitars down then bring in different musicians and instruments and just see where the songs go” ? Dan is on the look out for a cool keyboard player (but not rock). He or she must be diverse so hey, get in touch with us and we will pass the info on to Dan.
Thanks to Mark at the Corporation club for sorting the gig out and to Dan Reed for taking some time out with us, as always man it was a blast.
Till the next time, remember “Rock is for life not just the 80’s”!
Words and photos by The Bailey Brothers