Dan Reed Network 2013

DAN REED NETWORK, Debaser Hornstull, Stockholm, 2013-10-10

Dan Reed NetworkTo say that I was psyched for this gig is probably the understatement of this decade. I have been a huge Dan Reed Network fan since me and my friends played their self titled debut to death back in 1988. The band made two more albums before they split up and the fact that they didn’t achieve world domination is so unfair it’s ridiculous. Only Sweden and England embraced the band but for some reason the rest of the world remained cold and I still can’t grasp that. Ever since they put the band to rest back in 1994 I have longed for this reunion to happen. To make matters worse, I never got to see the band live as a headliner when they were still around. I did see them live twice, as openers for Bon Jovi in 1989 and for Rolling Stones in 1990, but that’s a whole different deal as they don’t get to use their own sound system, light show or play for as a long as they want. Still, I remember those special guest gigs as very good. Now, Dan Reed has a solo career going, of course, and his two solo albums Coming Up For Air (2010) and Signal Fire earlier this year, are both great, and he has also just released an acoustic album with versions of older tracks together with some unreleased stuff. Yes, I really, really dig Dan Reed solo, but Dan Reed Network is a whole different beast. Where his solo stuff is laid back and very poppy, the Network rocks with a big funk groove and if I have to choose, I’d prefer the Network thing.

So it was a stoked Jon who, in the company of three beautiful ladies (yes, I really needed to point that out…), went to witness the first Dan Reed Network gig in Sweden since 1993 – that’s 20 long years (God, I’m old…). Now I have seen Dan Reed solo live recently and I know that he wouldn’t do a thing like this if everyone wasn’t totally in gear and had a 100 % focus on making everything tight. Let’s just say that I had huge – as in HUGE – expectations on this concert. And with big expectations like that, it’s very easy to become disappointed, but for some reason I really wasn’t worried. I know that ever since the band released the brilliant Slam in 1989, their opening song has been “Cruise Together”, a song I have never liked at all. In my opinion it’s to slow and mellow for an opening song and the fact is, I really could do without it in the set at all. They did open with it tonight as well and my first reaction was “oh no”, but after the first verse, my foot started stomping and I started to sing along and I realised that the song is actually not that bad. I still think it’s wrong for an opening song, but somehow it kinda worked. “Forgot To Make Her Mine” from the debut album followed and rocked things up immediately and the groove was intense. But technical problems reared their ugly heads. Some really annoying feedback from lead guitarist Brion James amp appeared and refused to go away. Whenever he played, the feedback was gone, but as soon as he stopped, it appeared. It was finally solved when the guitar tech simple removed all the effects. We didn’t care, it sounded just as good without them and they could finish the song properly. “Under My Skin” made the crowd go totally bonkers and by then one thing was clear – Dan Reed Network’s albums do not do justice to this band. Especially their debut has a very lame sound, which is weird as it was produced by Bruce Fairbairn (Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Kiss, Krokus, Black N Blue) and the Nile Rodgers produced Slam is a bit heavier, but still isn’t rough enough. No, it’s in a live environment that the band comes alive for real. “Baby Now I” from the so very underrated album The Heat (1991) followed. It’s my favourite DRN album, but it seems like I’m pretty alone on that. The crowd stands still for most of the song and I got the feeling that most of the people didn’t even know which song that was. I thought the song sounded bad ass, though.

That wasn’t the case with the ballad “Rainbow Child”. It’s a brilliant tune and DRN’s biggest hit and I’m sure that everyone sang along to it. Goosebumps de luxe! Slam was the most featured album here tonight, even if it was just by one song, but the fact is, stuff like “Come Back Baby” and “Make It Easy” work like charm live. They rock and groove and funk and tonight, even the ceiling started to sweat. The place was sold out and air conditioning wasn’t even noticeable. This happens when a big crowd rocks out big time with the band. “Tiger In A Dress” however, was a bit of a miscalculation. It was the first single off Slam and has always been considered a big hit, but tonight it falls flat. Come to think of it, the song was never a favourite of mine and I have never heard anybody praise it either. “Doin’ The Love Thing” wasn’t played this evening which is a mystery, the heavy groove of that song would have worked lots better than “Tiger…”. But “Baby Don’t Fade” took us back to the groove and DRN’s best ballad, in my opinion, “Stronger Than Steel” sent shivers down my spin. Dan Reed also took the time to dedicate it to Susanne (if I didn’t get the name wrong…) a wheelchair bound fan who has been to every single Dan Reed show in Sweden and make no mistake, the guy has practically lived here for the past few years. A bouquet of roses were given to her as she was at the front row and you’d have to be pretty empty of emotions not to feel that moment. “I’m So Sorry” is one of my all time DRN favourites and together with “Ritual”, one of their biggest hits, the place explodes. Funny though, they had to restart “Ritual” when Dan screws up the beginning of the song and says: “Stop it. I fucked it up. The band is called Dan Reed Network and I fucked it up… Maybe we should call the band Justin Bieber Network. Or Dan Reed Not Work…”. They start all over and the place goes wild. The first song on DRN’s debut album is just a short rap-like intro, called “The World Has A Heart Too”. Tonight the song turns into a jam and all those who hadn’t noticed before, they did it now. The guys in DRN are all magnificent musicians. I always though guitarist Brion James was good, but I never really realised just how good. The guy is brilliant. He mixes a big feel with a blinding technique and presence and has a really great tone. Bass player Melvin Brannon II has a big funk groove and a steadiness and together with drummer Dan Pred he keeps a steady beat. The two of them really makes the band swing. Blake Sakamoto looks like he hasn’t aged at all and his keyboards is an important part of the DRN sound. He also provides with some great backing vocals. Of course “Get To You” is the song that really brings the roof down tonight. It was a big hit back when and the one that DRN are mostly known for. It might not be my favourite tune, but it is really good and live it takes on a life of itself and becomes a true killer. The song, just like many of the songs this evening, comes with a jam and it looks and sounds like the band has so much fun doing just that. That one should have ended the set this evening, but the band wanted to do just another one. An acoustic version of the ballad “Long Way To Go” ends tonight’s funkorama, a song that really reveals the great voices of Brannon and Sakamoto – especially the first lends some really amazing backups.

Anything negative then? Well, the sound wasn’t bad at all but, as always, it could have been better. And even tough DRN only made three albums, they have such a treasure chest with material. “Cruise Together” and “Tiger In A Dress” aren’t biggies of mine and I would have loved to hear “Doin’ The Love Thing”, “Tamin’ The Wild Nights” and something more from The Heat. But those are trivial things on a night such as this. I’m truly sorry for all of you who missed this and for you who might get the chance in the future, go see them. Live, DRN are a massive hard rocking funked up rock ‘n’ roll explosion that feeds even the most rhythmless person with rhythm. In y book, it would be such a waste if the boys don’t continue to play. The next logical step for the band would be a live DVD and then a new album – I’m sure they would record the best album of their career, if they decided on it. I’m not sure how objective I am on this subject, because I’m just so damn happy to see the guys reunited, so I’m not sure if my ratings here are accurate – I somehow get the feeling I could have given them this rating if they farted their way through their set, but talking to friends after the gig, I’m not alone in praising them. I want them back now. Sweden Rock – can you hear me?

Jon Wilmenius (10/10)

Setlist:

1. Cruise Together
2. Forgot To Make Her Mine
3. Under My Skin
4. Baby Now I
5. Rainbow Child
6. Come Back Baby
7. Make It Easy
8. Tiger In A Dress
9. Baby Don’t Fade
10. Stronger Than Steel
11. I’m So Sorry
12. Ritual
13 The World Has A Heart Too
14. Get To You
15. Long Way To Go

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2 comments on “DAN REED NETWORK, Debaser Hornstull, Stockholm, 2013-10-10

  1. Thanks Jon for a great review, I was lucky to be there and your comments are spot on. Great show with a bad ass music you can’t find these days. If there is a higher force somewhere, may it force DNR to make a new album 😉 Amen 😊

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