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DAN REED NETWORK/PETER SHOULDER/THE AMORETTES
O2 ABC 2, Glasgow
11th June 2014
The Amorettes are an all female Scottish power trio well known for their energetic live performances and in your face style. I hadn't managed to catch them for a year or two so it was good to see that they have lost none of their spark and energy.
Their modus operandi is to launch into a three or four minute burst of energy and try to stun you with ferocious riffing and soloing, thunderous bass and a drummer who seems to be trying to beat their way through the kit to get to the audience. If that doesn't work (or even if it does) they'll pound you into submission with the next one.
Anything they lack in subtlety is made up for with melodic vocals, a cheeky charm and an invitation to chant along with the simple chorus lines. In this form they are simply irresistible and the crowd lap it up and enjoy the singalong in last number 'Hot And Heavy'.
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With a new album in the offing and an increasing reputation I see great things ahead for these girls, they are not simply a cracking all female band but a cracking Metal band full stop.
Following that was not going to be easy and it fell to Peter Shoulder, ex-Winterville and current member of The Union. With the best will in the world being sandwiched between the full on Metal energy of The Amorettes and a much anticipated return to Glasgow of the headliners a solo acoustic set of songs was going to struggle to cut through and so it proved.
While he received a polite and friendly welcome most of the crowd were just marking time until the main event and I didn't hear anything in the songs that really stuck in the memory. A case of the wrong tour to be on I think.
In the early 90s the Dan Reed Network were on the edge of breaking big as they called it then. Three successful albums and a reputation as a great live act bolstered with tours supporting the Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi it seemed that they would be scaling heights like their fellow funky rockers the Red Hot Chilli Peppers but it wasn't to be. Disillusionment with the music industry meant that a temporary break from the rock and roll rollercoaster turned into a permanent one.
The band all went their separate ways and Dan Reed reemerged as a solo artist in recent years and when he was asked about a reunion with the Network guys he always said they were happy as they are'. However inevitably a 'one off' reunion show happened and as is so often the case in these reunions the spark that made it work in the first place resurfaced and here we are with the original line up playing Glasgow for the first time in twenty four years.
This wasn't a sold out show in the much bigger Barrowlands like last time but the crowd roared a welcome like it was and the band launched into 'Cruise Together' which immediately blew any cobwebs away. Showcasing their trademark mix of funk, rock and emotional feel good lyrics the groove on this song was just huge. Bad dancing erupted all around me and didn't stop for the next hour and forty five minutes.
The band have lost none of their fire or sense of fun. Brion James' guitar work is still fluid and melodic yet full of fire and the rhythm section of drummer Dan Pred and bass player Melvin Brannon add power to the funk so that the songs both groove and rock. Keyboard player Blake Sakamoto smiles serenely in the back while Dan Reed himself is still full of energy despite the years that have gone past. Judging by the reaction from the women near me it would seem he hasn't lost his charms over the years either.
The first half of the show is a joint celebration between band and fans with everyone singing along and dancing and enjoying the great vibe in the room. The songs were huge slabs of energy and motion with 'Forgot To Make Her Mine' turning a tale of lost love into a joyous singalong and 'Baby Now I' shaking the foundations of the club with it's giant groove.
When things slowed down for 'Rainbow Child' it was still a feel good moment just crackling with energy and this seemed set to continue with the more uptempo 'Baby Don't Fade' but then the band got a little self indulgent. They were obviously all having a good time and there is some spontaneity in the set but now they got away from the song and included long improvised sections and a bass solo and I thought that the set lost its' impetus a bit.
'Stronger Than Steel' held its own as an over the top ballad but 'Ritual' still had a few too many 'extras' to it for me. 'Seven Sisters Road' isn't even one of their best songs in my opinion even before they started playing around with the arrangement.
It took one of their classics 'Get To You' with its' monstrous sliding riff to get things back on track to end the set and 'Tiger In A Dress' continued that through the encore. Just when I had got fed up with the improvising and rearranging of things they throw in one that really works and end the show with an a capella version of 'Long Way To Go' with the whole band and crowd singing as one.
This was a set slightly marred with some self indulgence in places but overall a triumphant return of an old favourite. The crowd loved it all and with a new album possibly in the offing it will hopefully not take the band another twenty four years to return to Scotland.
Dan Reed - vocals
Brion James - guitar
Melvin Brannon II - bass
Dan Pred - drums
Blake Sakamoto - keyboards