Dan Reed band photo

DAN REED BAND – Gröna Lund, Stockholm, 2013-06-24

Dan Reed - Grona Lund Stockholm June 2013Dan Reed has been a frequent visitor of Swedish shores the last few years – since he started up music again, actually. But then, back in 2009, he mostly did his “An Evening With Dan Reed” acoustic set in smaller places – even at chosen fans house sometimes – to both critically and fan based acclaim. Since then, Dan has released two brilliant solo albums, the more laid back Coming Up For Air from 2010 and his latest one, Signal Fire, that came out earlier this year. But the Dan Reed of 2013 is a different Dan Reed to the long haired rocker that kicked asses and broke girl’s hearts with his funked up hard rock band Network back in the late 80’s / early 90’s. His music today isn’t that funky, but more pop oriented, although still with a big groove. I don’t believe the guy could make music without a groove even if he tried. The fact that Dan Reed more or less started up his new-found career in Sweden isn’t that surprising as it was only in Sweden and the U.K. that the Dan Reed Network got really big. Which is really weird and really sad because they were a killer live act and the released three brilliant records. Talent doesn’t always equal success. That’s how people like Justin Bieber becomes famous…

Anyway, this evening was with his band, almost all of them Swedish and what you must know is that this wasn’t a show, this was a concert. The stage that was used this night was the fun fair’s small stage, so everything was very intimate and all the lights and such were used in very small amounts – this was only Dan and his band playing his songs for us. Which wasn’t a bad thing at all as the band is superb and so are Dan and his songs. Also, the sound was very good and the mixing guy did a brilliant job, making sure it was loud enough, but still without all the bugs that usually comes with loud music, except for some occasional feedback. And talking about Dan’s band, those guys are truly amazing. Guitar player Jimmy Lagnefors has a great tone and is all feel and the rhythm section of Bengan Johansson on bass and Robert Ikiz are just brutal, tighter than a camel’s arse in a sand storm. They opened up with two songs from his recent album, Signal Fire, “All I Need Is You” and the title track “Signal Fire”, a brave move as a lot of the audience are probably there because of Dan’s past, but the songs were very well received. A re-arranged version of his biggest hit “Rainbow Child” followed and even though it’s still a ballad, the new uptempo arrangement worked out brilliantly. In fact, I actually liked this version better than the original one. Kinda shows that a killer song is a killer song no matter what. “Losing My Fear” is one of those mellow tracks from Coming Up For Air that got worked up a bit here and so was that album’s title track “Coming Up For Air” and it made them work splendid in a live situation. Squeezed in between them was the new album’s “Only Love”, a brilliant tune. Being an old Dan Reed Network fan, I really was looking forward to hearing some of that stuff as well, but I was a bit disappointed that they chose to play “Cruise Together”. That song has never been a favourite of mine at all, but on the other hand, the new arrangements here made it sound more upbeat and not so gloomy as it does on record. “Avalanche” on the other hand is a kick ass rocker that works brilliantly in a live situation. Actually, I would have loved it be just a bit heavier, but hey, we can’t have it all, now can we?

After that, the band left the stage to Dan and the piano (well, it was actually a keyboard…). “Mix It Up” from the DRN album The Heat has never been a favourite tune for me, but this naked version where Dan talks more than sings through the verses makes it work great. “Stronger Than Steel”, the awesome power ballad from the Slam album comes out much more honest stripped down like this and the lyrics that would have been too cheesy had they been written and sung by any other artist (well, some people just have it in them to get away with stuff like that), comes out really beautiful this way. But he should have cut the alone-withe-piano thing right there. “Candle Light” is a great song, but the fact that they also continued by the ballad “Indestructible” with the whole band on stage, made that section very close to sleepy. But, I must state that “Indestructible” becomes very intense and emotional and actually rocked towards the end. The last song for the evening was “Ritual” from DRN’s self titled debut, in a new less funky version. But fear not, it still grooved like crazy. I must say I’m really impressed by the new arrangements the old songs have gotten here. And I didn’t hear anyone complaining about it either. Of course, no Dan Reed gig will ever be complete without one of his biggest hits, the funky pop rocker “Get To You”. Even that one had some new arrangements, but was still being played pretty close to the original version. But what a groove. And the jam at the end of the song was insane. Bass player Johansson rocked the crap out the song and Ikiz was just brutal. I was sweating just by watching those guys. The whole thing ended with on a calmer note with the awesome “Brave New World” and this Monday evening was about to end. But what a Monday evening. To sum this up, an amazing concert played by musicians that were just oozing with the sheer joy of playing – you could actually touch it – and when that happens, it gets contagious. I can almost guarantee that no Dan Reed fan left tonight’s show disappointed. What also needs to be said is that Dan Reed revealed that the Dan Reed Network reunion on new year’s eve 2012 wasn’t a one-off and that they will be playing in Stockholm in October. Talk about the no-brainer of the year. I’ll be the bald guy in the front row being 20 all over again. Cheers!

Jon Wilmenius (9/10)

Set list:

1. All I Need Is You
2. Signal Fire
3. Rainbow Child
4. Losing My Fear
5. Only Love
6. Coming Up For Air
7. Cruise Together
8. Avalanche
9. Mix It Up
10. Stronger Than Steel
11. Candle Light
12. Indestructible
13. Ritual
14. Get To You
15. Brave New World
14. Get To You

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