at the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., October 23, 2015

ELECTRIC BOYS (Live at the O2 Academy, Newcastle, U.K., October 23, 2015)
Photo: Mick Burgess

Such was the frantic rush for tickets for this show which sold out within a matter of hours. the promoter had to move to the larger O2 Academy to accommodate demand.

Combining Funk rhythms with Hard Rock guitars may not have been a new concept as Sly and The Family Stone, Funkadelic and Trapeze all jumped aboard the Hard Rock groove train in the early ’70s with American Rockers Mother’s Finest taking it one step further a little later. It was not until the late ’80s sandwiched between the Hair Metal of Mötley Crüe and the dour down-tuned Grunge of Nirvana when for a time, Funk infused Rock sprang up in a kaleidoscope of colour, rhythm and groove. History may see the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Faith No More as the success stories of those times but back then it was Dan Reed Network and the Electric Boys who were tipped for the top.

Sweden’s Electric Boys were exactly that. Scintillating, energetic and hugely infectious. Psychedelic Eyes lead from the front and the first of the bulk of their debut album Funk-o-Metal Carpet Ride, which marks its 25th anniversary this year.

Still sounding vibrant a quarter of a century later the Electric Boys grooved their way through their set coming across akin to a funky Aerosmith. Frontman Conny Bloom exuded cool, so cool in fact that Gordon’s Gin used him as their face in a recent advertising campaign.

I Wish I Had A Car and Rags To Riches kept the pace fired up and when All Lips and Hips, the old dance floor filler in the good old days of The Mayfair, kicked into gear, the Academy exploded into a spontaneous outbreak of dancing.

The last time Dan Reed Network stood on a stage in the region, it was opening for the Rolling Stones at Gateshead Stadium on their Steel Wheels tour. The stage may be smaller but DRN delivered a stadium sized performance.

Reed has visited Newcastle a number of times in recent years but in a more reflective, acoustic singer songwriter mode. Tonight was about the Funk, the Funk and nothing but the Funk.

Reunited with his original Network bandmates after 25 years apart, with only keyboardist Blake Sakamoto absent due to family reasons, Reed and co. were back to prove a point and the aptly titled Resurrection kicked off the show in uplifting style.

At the front was Dan Reed, a charismatic, energetic and entertaining frontman who constantly bantered with the crowd or made his band the butt of the joke but was always bang on with his vocals.

Easy on You, Too Late She’s Gone and Baby Now I, complete with a cheeky snippet of the KISS Disco stomper, I Was Made For Lovin’ You, all hit the mark in a exuberant combination of groove and Rock with Brion James’s guitar varying from rhythmic Funk to spitting out hard hitting riffs while Melvin Brannon II’s bass slammed the rhythm. Imagine Bon Jovi jamming with Prince and you can start to get the picture. Their set was crammed with big songs with even bigger choruses with enough Rock for Rock fans and enough Pop for those more interested in the charts which makes their relative lack of commercial success all the more baffling. The music business can indeed be a cruel mistress.

Stronger Than Steel gave the crowd a moment to catch their breath as the moving ballad tugged on the heartstrings while the inspiring Rainbow Child will surely be a song that Prince must have wished he’d written.

Closing with the BIG hitters Get To You and Ritual literally raised the raised the roof while Long Way Home brought things down to earth as all of the band stood at the front for the acoustic number giving both James and Brannon II the chance to show their Soulful voices.

With news of a brand new album, their first in two and a half decades and the promise of a rapid return to these shores next year makes for an exciting prospect in 2016.


  • 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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