at The Cluny, Newcastle, UK, April 1, 2015

DANNY VAUGHN & DAN REED (Live at The Cluny, Newcastle, UK, April 1, 2015)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Back in the days BG (Before Grunge) Danny Vaughn and Dan Reed stood poised with the Rock world at their feet. Vaughn fronting Tyketto, a melody fueled Hard Rock band with Forever Young on heavy rotation across MTV while Reed led the Dan Reed Network, a multi-racial tour de force blending the Rock and hooks of Bon Jovi with the rhythmic Funk of Prince. Both had talent by the spadeful, the image, the songs and high profile tours with the likes of the Rolling Stones and Whitesnake. Stadium sized success was assured to the extent that you’d bet your mortgage on it. What could possibly go wrong?

Seemingly overnight the musical soundscape was changed when Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” broke big time. Gone were the flamboyant Rock star poses and uplifting, up-tempo party songs replaced by dour, down tuned misery and music danced to a different beat.

Talent however does not disappear or fade away. That was never in doubt. Vaughn continued performing with his own band and as an acoustic artist playing many sold out shows at The Cluny over the years. Reed, went on a soul searching voyage of discovery before finally emerging in 2010 with his acoustic Coming Up For Air album.

The pairing of Vaughn and Reed seems such a natural fit that it makes you wonder why they hadn’t thought of this before. Rather than two separate sets they shared the stage for the whole evening to deliver a two piece acoustic show of the high points of their respective careers with a few covers chucked in for good measure.

Purely acoustic shows can at times drift along in a one dimensional way but for well over two hours this show never lost its focus. That was down in a large part to the engaging characters of the two Dan’s. The clear on stage camaraderie regularly spilled out into the crowd with jocular interaction between songs creating an atmosphere more akin to having a bunch of friends over for tea.

While the hubbub of the Leaders debate raged across the TV those in The Cluny were taken on a roller coaster of a musical journey which was fun (an impromptu run through The Monkee’s Last Train To Clarksville), sad (What Dreams May Come-Reed’s particularly poignant message to the much missed Robin Williams); uplifting (Ritual and Burning Down Inside) and deadly serious where Vaughn’s Standing Alone, a song about standing on the precipice contemplating an unthinkable way out was sung with such feeling by Reed in the first verse and Vaughn in the second that the emotion was almost tangible. Reed’s 99 Lashes telling of the inhumane side of mankind was a thought provoking protest song, the likes of which haven’t been written since the ’60’s. That was a major showstopping moment and utterly compelling.

The choice of covers too was inspiring. Sting’s “Fields of Gold” was introduced by Reed recounting his life as a child on a South Dakota farm and fit the song perfectly while an inspiring cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver” was a lesson in how to treat a classic with respect while stamping your own personality through it.

The big numbers, Tyketto’s “Forever Young” and Dan Reed Networks’ “Get To You” proved that even when stripped of their rock finery these are truly great songs. If you’ve never heard them before, that’s what YouTube is for. Check them out and see what you’ve been missing.

None of this would have worked had it not been for the voices. Both possess strong, powerful yet melodic and emotive voices that really bring the songs to life. Getting one of those on stage would have been enough but both was simply priceless. With talk of an album suggesting this might not be a passing project this is a show that must not be missed if they return in the future. Absolutely inspiring.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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