Despite a cold and rainy night descending upon Birmingham, a decent sized crowd have turned out to see Dan Reed on this date of his UK Signal Fire tour and they are treated to a sublime set. Launching straight into ‘All I Need Is You’, ‘Signal Fire’ and ‘Only Love’ is a bold move for a performer who has never stood still and always pushes new music. These are of course the first three tracks from his latest album, albeit in slightly different order, and they sound fresh, alive and like the band is settling into these tunes already. A decent feat especially considering bass player Karl Sweeney is filling in for their regular guy and he only had a couple of days to learn the whole set.
It’s clear a lot of the audience haven’t heard these songs before but the warm reaction is confirmed further by the crowd at the merch table afterwards buying copies of the latest CD.
‘Coming Up For Air’ greets us with what sounds like a new arrangement since the last tour. Still as vibrant and catchy as ever it is imbued with a new warmth and ‘Rainbow Child’ also sounds updated and emboldened. Guitar maestro Rob Daiker really does justice to the older songs with a new take on the solos that is never too flashy and compliments the mood perfectly.
‘Losing My Fear’ is particularly moving and Dan‘s voice remains as rich and emotive as ever as the subtle melodies give way to a drum solo of fine jazz extravagance from birthday boy Ikiz. Incidentally the drummer has his own band and having picked up a copy of his CD at the end of the show, I can assure you Ikiz is well worth a listen.
Treating a crowd who are itching to hear more of the classics to a lengthy rendition of ‘Ritual’ is a masterstroke. The extended guitar and piano section in the middle highlights the fluid playing of Michael Abubakar and we also get treated to a lesson in how to swear like a true Glaswegian.
A splendidly frantic version of ‘Avalanche’ precedes Dan announcing, to the delight of the crowd, that the original line up of the Dan Reed Network will play a gig in the UK at Enchanted Festival on October 12th and then gracing us with two more Network classics. Both ‘Stronger Than Steel’ and ‘All My Lovin” are performed solo acoustic and the whole place is captivated. The latter track in particular shimmers with a new brilliance since he reworked it as a gentler less-funky number and at this point I can’t be the only one whose goosebumps have goosebumps.
Rounding off the set with a rousing Indestructible, a tender ‘I’m So Sorry’ and a triple whammy singalong of ‘End Of The World’, ‘Closer’ and ‘Get To You’, the energy levels are so high that a sweaty, cheering crowd chant for more and despite the early curfew Dan and co do not disappoint. Smiling and glowing in the reflected love of a devoted audience, Dan puts heart and soul into the encore – the bold and moving ‘Brave New World’ and although the set finishes here, the show as usual does not finish entirely. Meeting and greeting everyone who wants to speak with him afterwards has always been his trademark and tonight is no exception. Patiently signing, posing for photos, hugging and chatting with dozens of eager fans, this is an artist who gives so much more than just a performance – he connects with every single person in the room on and off stage and continues to prove why he is a uniquely gifted and engaging artist almost 30 years into his career. If you want songs of sadness and joy, all with massive hooks and a crowd that feels like one big family singing along then I urge you to get yourself to one of his shows soon.
Rest of the UK and Northern Ireland dates here