Dan Reed Network | 100 Club | 15 June 2016
Photo credit: Laurence Harvey
There’s no light show, no smoke machine, no video screens. It’s just five men – most on the other side of 50 – having as much fun as the audience. When the feet-on-fire frontman’s not pointing into the crowd, he’s air drumming or curling his fingers as if they’re tiger claws. The bassist, at various points, wears his bandana as a bandit mask, devises a dance routine to untangle his lead, and delivers punchlines with all the skill of a veteran stand-up. And the dreadlocked guitarist has the perpetual smile of a man on a tropical island rather than in a dark London basement club.
Tonight, those positive vibes are just as important as the men’s energetic performance of one feel-good song after another. A jubilant ‘Resurrect’ and muscular ‘Under My Skin’ still sound as fresh as they did over 25 years ago, segueing seamlessly into the brand-new ‘Infected’. Greeted as enthusiastically as the classics, the funk-fuelled track from ‘Fight Another Day’ easily holds its own, despite being followed by a bounce through ‘Baby Now I’, complete with an instrumental and vocal solo from bass player Melvin Brannon.
‘Rainbow Child’, nestled neatly in the middle of the set, unsurprisingly fills 100 Club with unbridled joy – and a soulful solo from guitarist Brion James – before 1988’s ‘Come Back Baby’ marches in and another newcomer, ‘The Brave’, bounces around the room with its irresistible chorus.
A future classic, ‘Champion’ adds a touch of drama as frontman Dan Reed pours his heart into words like “look in the mirror and love what you can’t see”. But it’s current single ‘Divided’ that’s the undisputed champion of the reunion material, the audience punctuating the chunky guitar riff and the triumphant lines “rock this world with a fever” with raised fists and voices. Five-minute slice of carnival ‘Ritual’ lifts their spirits even higher, showcasing keyboard player Rob Daiker, while Dan Pred’s drumming rattles the photos of Eric Clapton, The Kinks, and Oasis on the walls.
Sung by James, the sunny ‘Save The World’ ensures the party doesn’t stop – that is, until Reed leads a communal meditation for a bass amp struggling to keep up. It does the trick, with Brannon all over the rejuvenated‘ Tiger In A Dress’ and the victorious goodnight song, ‘Get To You’.
The Network’s 1987 Marquee Club show has attained legendary status among the band members and fans alike. Tonight’s mutual outpouring of love is sure to follow suit.