Is there anything better you could be doing on a cold and damp Sunday evening than watching three classic rock bands playing three iconic albums in full amongst an excited crowd of like-minded fans? It’s very rare that you see a lineup like this, three bands sharing generally the same equipment, no divas, and everyone looks like they are having an absolute blast, giving their all every night. Rock City holds something special for both Dan Reed Network and FM, with the former having played a legendary show there almost 30 years ago, while the latter reformed at the venue for the Firefest Festival in 2007 and haven’t looked back since. This indeed could be a very special night.
Scottish rockers GUN kicked off proceedings and the atmosphere was already electric. The set was powerful and the smile on Dante’s face throughout was enough to warm even the coldest heart. With the majority of the set naturally coming from the Taking On The World album sometimes the flow of a studio album doesn’t work in a live environment, so mixing up the order and injecting the odd track here and there helps the set run so smoothly.
Being 100% honest I wasn’t quite sure how the guys would go down on this bill, the reality is that certainly in Nottingham they had a lot of support in the crowd, and the singing was loud from all over. Personally it’s the best I have seen them play. Naturally “Better Days” and the title track were huge but an excellent rendition of “Can’t Get Any Lower” was the stand out. This band are always really fun to watch live, and Cameo cover “Word Up” and rousing closer, the Beastie Boys’ “Fight For The Right”, all a little bit extra. A terrific reception and heartfelt thanks from the band are sure to have some new fans showing up when they return to Nottingham in April.
Next up was the band that has been grabbing the headlines from other dates on this tour, the Dan Reed Network… and wow, simply stunning. The whole set flew by in what seemed like a couple of minutes. Of course Slam hits “Tiger In A Dress” and the beautiful “Rainbow Child” were enough to blow you away, with the appreciation and sheer noise from the crowd along with the singing, it was joyous to be a part of, and clearly Dan and the guys were moved by it. What a talented bunch they are and so much movement to keep a track of, whether it’s Dan joining the crowd on the barrier or Bryon and Melvin sling-shotting their instruments, it’s all there and this is immediately one of my sets of the year.
There isn’t a lame duck in the set, you could pick anything from “Come Back Baby”, “Stronger Than Steel” or the brilliant closing version of “Seven Sisters Road” this is just how you are supposed to feel at a rock show, and damn do they bring the funk. There is something about the way Dan holds a crowd in the palm of his hand, but really the voice is so good, the songs are building one upon the other and as I look around from the barrier there are so many smiling faces. The Network were spreading the love tonight and when they return to these shores next October, make sure you get out and see this fine band.
Closing things off tonight are none other than British melodic rock legends FM. When you have one of the best voices in rock in your ranks it sounds like it should be all really easy, but that just isn’t how life works. However, FM are always so classy, so polished it looks damn easy. What a start to a set, playing Tough It Out in the order it was released means you get some of their set favourites from the get go. Powering through the title track, “Don’t Stop” and “Bad Luck” there’s hardly time to take a breath, and just like the other bands they are loving the reaction from the fans.
Great to hear “Someday” in all its glory and it’s amazing just how many great tracks are on this album. This is another set that seems to fly by, the lovely “Everytime I Think Of You” to the rocking “Burning My Heart Down” and “Does It Feel Like Love” the crowd are belting out every chorus and more. The general vibe tonight is just a celebration of music, we are all part of the flock and loving it. The set is closed out with the truly wonderful “That Girl”, replacing the equally excellent “I Belong To The Night”, which had me singing every word and one of the fan favourites from newer released “Killed By Love”. The amount of love shown to the band as they finished says a lot about the esteem they are held in.
Long may we cherish these bands and tours like this. A very special night indeed, great music and fans, leaving the venue knowing you could have stayed another couple of hours and eager to see them all again. Hopefully we can do this all again someday soon.
Review by Stephen Brophy. Pics by Sean Larkin Photography