Dan Reed clearly doesn’t believe in the ‘One Steve Limit‘ rule as described by TV Tropes; in short that is a convention where a group cannot contain two people or more with the same first name. In his regular band Dan Reed Network he has drummer Dan Pred of course, and with this tour he has once again teamed up with Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn for the third run of acoustic dates that they dubbed ‘Snake Oil & Harmony’.
The first time these two frontmen paired up was three years ago and back then they both admitted that they didn’t quite know what would happen. I saw them in Liverpool on that tour, before an audience best described as ‘exclusive’ but it was a truly special night, both guys accompanied by just acoustic guitars and performing a selection of songs from each others’ past, both well-known and not so. What that also showed me was what a great performer Dan Reed is. I was never a fan of the Network ‘back in the day’, and it took seeing him play in this format to open my eyes/ears to what he has to offer.
This show in Chester was pretty much the same formula with the stage at the main hall in the Live Rooms having just two chairs and mikes on stands. The two Dans came on stage at around 8:30 to an audience of around 100, the show took place during a cold snap which saw the country once again slither to a halt at the sight of some snow. We’re often ridiculed whenever that happens in the UK, which is a subject for another day and probably another blog (!) but suffice to say, our weather is so unpredictable that preparing for such events is a gamble. As a result, several fans from more remote areas (especially in the North Wales region) who were planning to come didn’t, as their areas were snowed in. It was cold on the stage too, with Danny Vaughn joking that he was now of that age where he could come on wearing ‘a cardi’. (He’s picked up a fair amount of British slang, since he spends so much time here!) They took it in turns, with Dan Reed going first with his own song ‘Smile’. A surprise was that ‘Rainbow Child’ came early in the set, one of the Network’s best-loved songs and one I might have expected to be saved for later in the evening. Danny Vaughn’s material covered old and new too, with several tracks from the last Tyketto album ‘Reach’ being performed.
As on the previous occasion there was a lot of banter with the audience and between the two, Dan Reed especially was in great form. They change the set around from night to night on these tours, and will sometimes take requests from the audience. Both guys were also in tremendous voice, Danny Vaughn always is of course but while Dan Reed feigns envy at his colleague’s tremendous range, he has a pretty strong singing voice himself. In addition, he sings with such emotion – he really pours himself into those songs. They always backed one another up on the other’s songs, sometimes just adding a little bit of backing vocal but on other occasions playing the guitars in unison. These shows also demonstrate their playing as well as singing ability; having attempted to learn guitar myself I have found myself watching guitar players more closely at gigs and both these guys are damn good players too, not just singers. My highlights for Dan Reed were his acoustic renditions of Network hits like ‘Ritual’, ‘Mix It Up’ and of course ‘Rainbow Child’ and for Danny Vaughn, the deeper cuts like ‘Dulcimer Street’ and ‘Is That All There Is’ were particularly enjoyable.
Towards the end of the night (a good two hours’ worth) the guys confirmed they had plans to record together in the near future, while both revealed plans to play with their respective bands in the coming year. They even performed a song that they’d co-written (‘Where The Water Goes’) which is intended to appear on any product they release. Following the set both came to the stand for a meet and greet, signing and posing for photos before the Live Rooms staff had to close up at 11pm.
Both guys are veterans of the scene now but both are still at the top of their game, and on this evidence have got plenty to offer yet. If you get the chance to see them, take it. (As I type, the guys announced that they would postpone the following night’s show in Sheffield owing to the weather situation worsening. They’d actually arrived in the city but felt that they could not ask fans to travel in the conditions, the date will now be rescheduled for 29th March 2018.)