At The Cluny, Newcastle, U.K., March 7, 2017

DAN REED NETWORK (Live at The Cluny, Newcastle, U.K., March 7, 2017)
Photo: Mick Burgess

If you’d been a betting man back in the late ’80s the smart money would have been laid on the Dan Reed Network to become the next big thing. Their intoxicating blend of Prince fuelled Funk distilled with Bon Jovi-esq stadium Rock anthems was a sure fire winner coupled with a striking multi-cultural image and a frontman to adorn the covers of magazines worldwide not to mention killer songs by the bucket load. They made albums with Chic icon, Nile Rodgers and tours with the Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi brought them to the masses but aside a couple of minor hits, they inexplicably never took off and after three albums of supreme quality, it was over. Such is the vagaries of the industry.

While most of the band stayed within the music business in one capacity or another with bassist Melvin Brannon II notably spending time touring with the legendary Booker T, Reed himself spent years getting away from it all in a Tibetan monastery. A bizarre request from a monk to teach them Queen’s We Will Rock You started a chain of events that led Reed back into music, first as a solo acoustic singer songwriter and that resulted in the inevitable reunion on New Year’s Eve 2012 with his Network bandmates.

While mega sales may have eluded them, their popularity has remained undiminished with their fiercely loyal fan base and The Cluny was sold out pretty much as soon as tickets went on sale. There was literally not a square millimetre spare in which to stand.

The band may be older and wiser but they’ve lost none of their energetic exuberance and passion for their craft. Over the course of the show they picked out the finest moments from the three albums they did the first time round mixing them with a liberal sprinkling from their latest record Fight Another Day, an album that symbolises their defiance in the face of adversity.

The slow, deep groove of Cruise Together and the punchy Under My Skin kicked hard and all sense of a set list was dispensed with as Reed took requests meaning that Slam, Tiger In A Dress, Make It easy and Resurrect came thick and fast.

Even the potential pitfall of a broken cymbal was turned into a spontaneous moment where Branon II and Brion James jammed with keyboard player Rob Daiker on some Jazz Funk improvisation that was a lot more fun than it sounds.

Reed, whose smooth, sultry tones caressed the moody Stronger Than Steel and the gorgeous Champion while his deep social conscience was evident on Divided.

They may have played on far, far bigger stages over the world with a notable appearance at Gateshead Stadium springing to mind opening for The Stones, but Reed put in a towering performance radiating charisma and also a warmth and humility missing from many bands these days.

Rainbow Child may well be about the best song that Prince never wrote and big hitters, the tribal rhythm fuelled Ritual and the Funk monster of Get To You sounded titanic with sky-scraping hooks that just begged to be blasted out of a car stereo on a hot summer’s day.

Of all of the recent reunions, Dan Reed Network must be about one of the most overdue. This is what music is all about. It’s hot, sweaty, packed with energy and spontaneity and above all, it was a shed load of fun. Welcome back.


  • 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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