Concert Reviews

Tyketto / Dan Reed Network / Estrella Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 30, 2016    
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Tyketto / Dan Reed Network / Estrella - Corporation, Sheffield (UK) - 10 March 2016

A Tyketto and Dan Reed Network co-headline jaunt has been in the offing since Danny Vaughn and Dan Reed joined forces for last year's 'Snake Oil And Harmony' acoustic tour. As both bands were over in the U.K. for the Hard Rock Hell Festival, it was the perfect time to do a few of their own dates.

I first saw Aberdeen's Estrella a couple of years ago opening up on the Robin Beck/House Of Lords tour, and admittedly was less than impressed. Since then they seem to have come on somewhat, whether that is because the songs on their sophomore release 'We Will Go On' are a vast improvement than those on their debut, who knows?

What I definitely don't like about this band is the OTT, in-your-face posing and flashy gimmicks they employ, because they don't need them. Standing on a packing crate at the front of the stage, handing out cans of beer to elicit audience participation, and guitarist Luke Gunn's incessant posturing; during the extended solo of one song he pulls out every naff Rock cliché in the book, playing guitar with his teeth, behind his head, one foot on the safety barrier and leaning out over the first few rows... I got the feeling they may have attempted a Scorpions-style human pyramid if the ceiling of the Corporation wasn't so low!

My point is, Tyketto (and guitarist Chris Green in particular) demonstrate that you can be a supreme musician without being a show-off. Estrella are obviously a talented bunch under all the posing, I would rather just be entertained by good musicianship and good songs. As for the latter, they definitely have a few in their arsenal, like when vocalist Paul Gunn straps on an acoustic for the set's second number (I think it was 'Whatever It Is', apologies if I'm mistaken) it almost brings tonight's Headliners to mind, while 'We Will Go On' is a cracking Glam-Rock stomp-along (think The Bay City Rollers jamming with Mud on Gotthard's 'Lift U Up'!). It's a shame they have to cut their set short because of time restrictions because I would have liked to hear more.

I never got into DRN back in the day, their brand of Funked-up Groove Rock never really sitting comfortably with me. The aforementioned 'Snake Oil...' show I saw was the first time I ever really took any notice of Dan Reed's music, obviously it was reproduced in acoustic form but I appreciated it. So I was attending tonight's show with my only knowledge of DRN being 'The Collection' CD I purchased after the 'Snake Oil...' show – and hoping that the over-produced nature of the songs would come across better live.

To be honest, not many of the songs on 'The Collection' were aired during tonight's set, so I was unfamiliar with most of the material, but what I did know was represented pretty faithfully to their originals (keyboard-sound and all, credit to reasonably new member Rob Daiker for that)... but I enjoyed the hell out of it! The excellent sound quality certainly helped, I've attended a lot of shows at The Corporation, but this was the best I've ever heard. Reed's infectious personality, unusual stage-moves, endless energy and excellent voice make him an excellent front-man (along with his cheeky sense of humour!), while the silver-dreadlocked Jamaican guitarist Brion James' face was etched with a permanent grin as he churned out the Funky riffs.

With a brand new album on Frontiers Records imminent, the temptation was too great to not include a new song in the set, and 'Divided' slotted in very comfortably alongside the older material. 'Rainbow Child' was the slowest song on offer tonight and drew a huge cheer, the lively 'Baby Now I' included a snippet of the Kiss classic 'I Was Made For Loving You', then the set closed with 'Get To You'. It seems like that's it as the band head off stage, then quickly decide to return for a seemingly impromptu run-through of 'Ritual'. I was expecting to be entertained, but I didn't expect to enjoy this set as much as I did.

It's not difficult to find new complimentary words to say about Tyketto. Though whistle-stop U.K. tours are becoming frequent, the attendances are getting bigger and bigger each time, which is great news for the future of the band, especially as they were heading straight into the studio after these shows to record a much-anticipated new album. Original bassist Jimi Kennedy was unable to join the tour, so his role was once again filled by Thunder's Chris Childs. With guitarist Chris Green and keyboardist Ged Rylands now fully-accepted permanent members, Tyketto is now more English than American, but as the UK has long been a second home for this band, that doesn't matter at all.

This set of dates were designed to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their much-loved 'Don't Come Easy' debut album, with a Rock Candy re-release imminent. After an intro-tape that is a nostalgic trip back in time for all long-standing Tyke fans, featuring snippets of songs and excerpts from features from the old MTV Headbanger's Ball, the band hit the stage with the autobiographical 'Sail Away' – an unusual choice of opener it seems, but then the reasoning becomes apparent. As '...Easy' is being performed in its entirety, they are doing it backwards – not in a subliminal backward-message way of course, but in reverse order. As Danny Vaughn points out, "if we did 'Forever Young' first then you'd all fuck off home afterwards!" It's been a while since the band have performed 'Strip Me Down', 'Nothing But Love' and the awesome 'Walk On Fire', Vaughn even admitting that he'd forgotten about the latter's acoustic intro piece that he had to re-learn.

Vaughn always acknowledges his opening bands, and he readily admits that following Dan Reed Network's energy makes him need to work a little harder, while introducing Tyketto's own Groove-Rock anthem, the always popular 'Lay Your Body Down'. It's followed by an absolute treat for hard-core fans; during the recording sessions of '...Easy' they also recorded another song that ended up as the 12" B-side of 'Forever Young', a track called 'Walk Away' (It also featured on the 2007 Demo collection 'The Last Sunset'). Tonight was the first time it was ever performed live, and they absolutely nail it! It's one of my favourite Tyketto songs, and I have no doubt that if it had made the album it would be regarded as just as highly as the rest of the material.

From there-on in it's classics all the way; 'Standing Alone' is always an emotional part of the show, with Vaughn's vocal delivery never ceasing to amaze, then 'Seasons', 'Burning Down Inside' and 'Wings' take us up to the inevitable 'Forever Young' that always takes the roof off!

As 'Forever...' is normally (and understandably) reserved for the encore, tonight to close the show we get a run-through of 'Love To Love' from the 'Dig In Deep' album, a perfect example of the "Tyketto sound" with the combination of Vaughn's acoustic and Green's electric guitar, and when he lets rip with a finger-blistering solo during the song's frantic finale it's a spectacular sight.

The latter party of the year should see Tyketto return for a lengthier tour to promote the new album. Expectations will be high. See you down the front!

Ant Heeks

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