Dan Reed Network / Vega - Warehouse 23, Wakefield (UK) - 03 March 2017
Whilst over ten thousand people were a few miles down the road watching the 'X Factor', a few hundred ventured to Wakefield's Warehouse 23 to watch a couple of bands whom already have the X-factor in spades. First on stage tonight was one of the UK's finest Melodic Rock bands, Vega; now with four quality albums worth of material to choose the band had the unenviable task of just picking ten for this evening's set.
The charismatic front-man Nick Workman worked the crowd effortlessly from the opening number, the title track of 2014's 'Stereo Messiah'. That was quickly followed by the title track of their glorious debut 'Kiss Of Life'. Three songs from last year's excellent 'Who We Are' opus augmented the fast flowing set; 'Every Little Monster', the ultra-catchy 'White Flag' and set closer 'Savin' Grace'. The only reduction in the pace came by way of the immense 'Fade Into The Flames'. 'Hands In The Air', an arena style song if there ever was one, had all the crowd participating, including the bar staff. This band just keep getting better and surely deserve to make it bigger. Vega continue to be a shining star in the Melodic Rock world.
Opening with 'Resurrect', the Dan Reed Network had the already partisan crowd in the palm of their hands. There are very few bands who can get away with a bass solo, never mind one in the second song, but Melvin Brannon provided us with one during 'Baby Now I', which also featured an eclectic medley of covers including Frankie Goes To Hollywood's 'Relax', Kiss' 'I Was Made For Loving You', Metallica's 'Enter Sandman' and Earth Wind & Fire's 'Let's Groove'. The band then stopped for nearly five minutes as Dan Pred had broken one of his drums and Dan Reed was having sound issues; kudos to the band who just took it in their stride and made it part of the show where Dan Reed said "You hadn't realised that you were paying for a ticket to watch us sound check!"
From my position at the front of the stage, the sound was not as bad as the band thought it was, although I cannot comment on what it was like elsewhere in the venue. Dan Reed brought Workman back on stage and joked that he could get better if he learnt to sing, but then genuinely acknowledged that he was one of the finest singers he had the privilege of sharing the stage with.
A running commentary throughout the evening referenced Donald Trump, for which the band requested that the audience gave them the middle finger; everyone, amusingly, obliged! The Network played with an abundance of energy, perfectly demonstrated in crowd favourite 'Forget To Make Her Mine', which once again had the Warehouse Rockin'!
Next followed a couple of tracks from last year's comeback album, the Funky 'Infected' and one of the songs of the year 'Champion'; the sound issues did present themselves on the vocals but the solo of Brion James was breathtaking. As expected, 'Rainbow Child' went down well followed by a brief rendition of 'Sharp Turn'. All the joking around on stage didn't seem to annoy fans, indeed, it seemed to add to the entertainment value.
My first ever introduction to Dan Reed Network was the ground-breaking 'Ritual' and it was one of this evening's highlights. 'Save The World' saw guitarist James taking lead vocals, followed by the deep cut 'Mind And Body' from 1986's 'Breathless' EP. Fan-favourite 'Tiger In A Dress' was another offering that had the Warehouse seriously Rocking.
Dan Reed then introduced the multi-talented and unassuming Rob Daiker, who came from behind the security of his keyboards to front and centre stage armed with guitar for a rendition of 'All For A Kiss' from his 'Binary Affairs' album. It's obvious that Daiker doesn't like the limelight, but it was equally as obvious that he's a talented song-writer, musician and vocalist.
The main set came to a close with three Funk Rockers in 'The Brave', 'Under My Skin' and 'Get To You'. The band return for a splendid cover of the Thin Lizzy classic 'Jailbreak' with Brandon taking leading vocals as Dan Reed played drums alongside Pred. The whole band then took to the front of the stage for an A Cappella version of 'Long Way From Home'.
Despite the sound issues, broken drum, lots of rhetoric and only three songs from the seminal 'Slam', this was still a sensational gig by any standards.
Mark Donnelly (photo by Dave Bott)