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Snake Oil & Harmony Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     March 10, 2018    
 
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Snake Oil & Harmony - The Cluny, Newcastle (UK) - 22 February 2018

The Cluny in Newcastle is a compact venue that allows for a very intimate atmosphere. I visited it for the first time just twelve months previously to see Jeff Scott Soto and his band. I was impressed by the set-up and thought it was the ideal setting for the smaller scale tours.

Together again, as Snake Oil & Harmony, Dan Reed and Danny Vaughn are able to indulge themselves in an acoustic format. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it gives the guys the opportunity to perform well known solo and band (Dan Reed Network and Tyketto) songs with more relaxed arrangements and a different energy. It has worked very well on previous tours, becoming more successful each time. The shows are improvised to a degree (I'm sure some of the impromptu moments have had some kind of rehearsal) and the set-lists change from venue to venue. What does not seem to change is the quality of the performances and the responses from the ever-growing crowds. I'd say that you don't even need to be a Dan Reed Network or Tyketto fan to appreciate the show. My partner joined me for tonight's show and though she was familiar with one or two of the better-known classics, it was the overall vibe and the strength of the deeper cuts which impressed her more than anything.

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Reed and Vaughn make a low-key entrance to the stage, where two stools and two guitars await them. For the next two plus hours, they treat the crowd to a selection of songs that translate superbly to a new format. The Dan Reed Network songs include 'Rainbow Child', 'Champion' and a powerful rendition of 'Mix It Up'. These sit nicely next to Reed's solo material, including 'Smile', 'Only Love', 'Distant Star' and 'Promised Land'. He has the ability to delve into his back catalogue at will and even if he forgets some of the words, the "witches of the forest" are always on hand to help out (you had to be there). Vaughn can call on some memorable Tyketto songs, such as 'The Last Sunset' and 'Lay Your Body Down', whilst emphasising how strong the more recent studio recordings are with heartfelt versions of 'Reach', 'Circle The Wagons' and 'Letting Go'. The pair work in tandem, regardless of whose song they are performing, and the vocals and harmonising are both passionate and sublime. Another highlight is a brand-new song, their first co-write ("51% mine" Reed cheekily suggests), called 'Where The Water Goes'. Both are very busy, but I really hope this is the first of many that the two write together. The relaxed atmosphere allows for between song story-telling and this adds greatly to the attraction. A lively rendition of Dan Reed Network's 'Get To You' brings things to a close too quickly and I don't think anyone in attendance wants it to end.

Being a fan of both artists, whether solo or as front-man of a band, I can say with hand on heart that I was blown away. There were many goose-bump moments throughout the show and speaking to both Reed and Vaughn afterwards, it was clear that even they thought it was a special night. The Snake Oil & Harmony endeavour tends to be an annual event, but I don't think I can wait twelve more months. If they have even more new material to showcase, then it will be one of the must-see gigs in 2019. Fingers crossed it does not take that long.

Dave Bott

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