Concert Reviews

FM / Dan Reed Network / Gun (The Big 3-0 Tour Nottingham) Hot

Written by Central Electronic Brain     December 28, 2019    
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FM / Dan Reed Network / Gun (The Big 3-0 Tour) - Rock City, Nottingham (UK) - 15 December 2019

The celebration of three popular albums by three popular bands, who have each come through musical adversity, periods of inactivity and line-up changes, but who still remain live draws in their own right. Having all three on the same bill, rotating running orders on different nights, was certainly value for money and the perfect way to spend a cold December night. It really is hard to believe that thirty years has elapsed since these albums were first released. There has been a lot of fantastic music released during the ensuing years, but there is still something about 'Tough It Out', 'Slam' and 'Taking On The World' that brings a smile to the face.

When Gun took to the stage at 7pm the room was full and from the reception the band received during opening song 'Better Days' it was evident it was the beginning of a special night. I saw Gun at the Rock and Blues Custom Show in 2018 and have to admit to being slightly underwhelmed. Dante Gizzi stepped up to the mic several years ago and I just thought his performance was a little too loose. There was no problem in Nottingham however. He was assured and his voice was perfect and not a million miles away from that of original vocalist Mark Rankin. His brother Giuliano (Jools) is the only other original member in the current line-up and was clearly having a good time, if his facial expressions were anything to go by. Dante explained that the 'Taking...' album was only fourty-five minutes long so the set had to be filled with other material. The first of the extra songs was the crowd favourite Cameo cover 'Word Up'. It may not be a Gun song, but I think they have managed to make it their own since first recording it. Even if you weren't familiar with the album as a whole there were so many well-known songs, including 'Something To Believe In', 'Money (Everybody Loves Her)', 'Inside Out' and 'Shame On You'. The 'Taking....' title track was a particular highlight and the YouTube footage I have seen recently does not do it justice. You had to be there to appreciate its impact. By finishing with The Beastie Boys' 'Fight For The Right (To Party)' Gun left everyone in a proper party mood.

I am a big Dan Reed Network fan and have seen them many times since they returned to the music scene six or seven years ago. I remember seeing them on the original 'Slam' tour back in 1990 and was left stunned by the energy and high-quality musicianship. Dan is such a personable frontman, very engaging and an all-round nice guy. The band are so tight, and due to the fact many of the 'Slam' songs have featured in recent live sets, playing the album in its entirety was never going to be a challenge. Dan introduced the show with a solo acoustic snippet of 'All My Lovin'' before the full band launched into the album's opening track 'Make It Easy'. Being in the photo pit for the first few songs was a real bonus, as the chance to get up close gives one the perfect opportunity to appreciate the fun the guys seem to have when playing live. Guitarist Brion James has never been given the plaudits he deserves and his playing never overshadows the songs. Bass player Melvin Brannon and drummer Dan Pred lay down an intense funky base for the music and keyboard player Rob Daiker adds some essential textures that complement Brion's guitar. Dan led the crowd through the better known and lesser known songs with the same enthusiasm and his singing has lost none of its identity or range. The highlight for me was a moving rendition of 'Stronger Than Steel' and when 'Seven Sisters Road' brought the set to an end it was over too soon.

FM enlisted the services of several outside writers when creating the follow-up to their 'Indiscreet' debut record. The likes of Desmond Child and Jesse Harms both contributed in an effort to give the band some kind of success in America on the advice of their Epic label masters. I don't think they quite realised their potential during the back end of the 1980s, though they did establish a dedicated fanbase and I saw them several times whilst on the road promoting 'Tough It Out'. Steve Overland is one of the best singers in the Melodic Rock genre and can still hit all the big notes. Some of the 'Tough...' songs have not been played for a long time and I believe some may never have been played live at all. The set followed the album running order so in that respect there were no surprises. With original members Pete Jupp (drums) and Merv Goldsworthy (bass) still playing as if it was their first time it was incredible to think that they were so experienced. Jim Kirkpatrick (lead guitar) and Jem Davis (keyboards) may be the unsung FM heroes, but they are so essential to the silky-smooth sound. With such high calibre songs as 'Bad Luck', 'Don't Stop', 'Someday' and 'Everytime I Think Of You' in the first half of the album it was understandable that attention wandered just a bit during the second half. Having said that the guys maintained the energy levels right to the end of the set and adding 'That Girl' and newer song 'Killed By Love' brought things to an emotional close.

Looking back to the night several days later brings a real sense of joy and I have some fantastic photos to add to my memories. The Big 3-0 Tour was a brilliant idea and a great success and I'd be there in an instant if the Big 3-1 Tour dates were announced for 2020.

Dave Bott

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