Dan Reed - Confessions Album Review & Launch Show, Manchester, Autumn 2017

The new solo album Confessions

Capitalising on the creative momentum generated for Fight Another Day, Dan Reed Network’s first studio album in 25 years, the band’s front man wastes no time in writing, recording and releasing his 4th solo album, Confessions. As we listen to the album on repeat, it’s 10 tracks clearly showcase what an exceptional artist Dan Reed really is, and truly one of the most underrated of his generation. But can Confessions be considered a rock album? Yes, but perhaps more because of its ancestry rather than its delivery. Humour us while we explain further. Predominantly a low volume, acoustic affair, it’s a record that maintains a very cool vibe throughout. Dan’s vocals and lyrics create a very calm and peaceful ambiance, and it’s altogether a very polite record. It’s the record you put on at dinner parties. It’s the rom-com movie soundtrack. In short, it’s the album you’d be happy to take home to meet your parents. You’d be mistaken for interpreting this to be a criticism of Dan’s release. It absolutely isn’t. What Dan has created here is an wholly beautiful record, and rarely are we presented with one with potentially such universal appeal. In a fair and just world Confessions will fly off the shelves. You are therefore invited to pack away your James Blunt, David Gray and Dido albums, pick up a copy of Confessions and invite the in-laws round.

Let’s now move our focus on to the supporting UK tour. Tonight, Friday 15th September, we are at the Sacred Trinity church in the heart of Manchester City Centre which provides a stunning setting for what is the Confessions album release show. This is a fully functioning community place of worship and tonight’s congregation are pleasantly surprised that the holy one appears to have diversified and turned water into beer. The the sale of draught lager is quite a talking point and the fans are taking full advantage of it. The idea for Dan to perform in a church is not as left-field as it may sound. As a young boy he wanted to grow up to be a priest – until he discovered Van Halen. 

At 8.30pm prompt, Dan Reed takes to the stage. With a crisp blue shirt and a Patrick Eggle acoustic guitar, he is a man who looks very healthy indeed. Clearly looking after himself much better than he did in his 80s heyday, Dan’s image belies his 52 years. A man who clearly holds onto his faith, Dan takes the time to respectfully share his religious beliefs. Equally compromised with his love of Van Halen, he makes the right decision not to cover Running with the Devil this evening. 

This one-man shows kicks off with Candlelight and straight away the strong acoustics of this room present themselves, providing a depth and airiness that allows the song to flourish and resonate with the audience in the most beautiful way. James Taylor’s Fire and Rain is next up before Piece of Home is introduced, the first of 4 tracks that will be played from the new Confessions album. What’s interesting is that even though the album only came out today, the whole audience is singing along. This says a lot about the loyalty of Dan Reed’s fans as they have clearly been revising all day.

Rainbow Child from The Dan Reed Network’s global hit album Slam unsurprisingly generates a huge reaction, and it has to be said that whilst the original track was performed by a full rock band, it translates very well to the acoustic format. Living With a Stranger and I’m On Your Side conclude the pre-determined part of tonight’s set-list. From here on the fans are choosing the songs. The first request is She’s Not You, a song written in honour of the passing of Dan’s mother. It creates a respectful mood and one that adds a particular poignancy given the setting. Ritual without question picks up the energy, conclusively reflecting the huge appreciation the fans have for the 1988 eponymous Dan Reed Network album. As more requests come in we observe Dan holding the audience in the palm of his hand. They hang on his every word. However, as the set continues it becomes evident what a risk it is to allow the crowd to determine the songs. One guy, on his wife’s request, asks Dan to sing All Night, though he would prefer Dreams May Come himself. A failed attempt at the former means the husband of the year will get his wish. Also, during Avalanche Dan forgets the words. But these mishaps are part of the appeal. What we see is a huge and personal connection between artist and fans, and one that seems so unique. The fans accept this as all being part of tonight’s entertainment. 

After nearly 2 hours of immersive music it’s another 2 songs from Confessions that brings the official performance to a close. With Day One, Dan takes the time to bestow a heartfelt note of thanks to his loyal and passionate fans, and with Distant Star taking the encore spot, it’s with a standing ovation that the show closes. But that’s not quite the end. Dan puts down his guitar no makes his way to a piano at the back of the church where completely unplugged he plays one final piece, Let It Go, to the elated crowd. 

It has been a very special evening indeed and the great news is that we will all get to relive the experience for tonight’s show is one of 3 that was recorded for a DVD release at Christmas. Until then, enjoy the photos from the show below and the official video for Confessions lead single Smile.

For more information visit www.danreed.com.