By STEVE MASCORD
AROUND a third of the audience in the Oregon Ballroom at Portland’s Waterfront Marriott on New Years’ Eve had no idea of the significance of what they were about to witness.
The original line-up of Dan Reed Network – magazine cover stars in Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s – was reuniting for a show that, at this stage, would be a one-off, with members assembling from around the globe.
While fans and industry types had also travelled from all points on the compass, locals who had never heard of the band donned dinner suits with no greater ambition for the evening but to get royally drunk.
Some time after 11.30pm, they hit the stage – Dan Reed, Dan Pred, Brion James, Melvin Brannon II and Blake Sakamoto – and brought with them an avalanche of grooves, riffs and melodies from an age the mainstream has forgotten.
“Make It Easy”, “Taming The Wild Nights”, “Rainbow Child”, “Stronger Than Steel”, “Forgot To Make Her Mine” – they all whizzed past with just a short break to ring in the new year. Reed, who now lives in Prague, twisted and contorted his way through the 90-minute set and barely stopped smiling.
Those who had turned up for a sedate ball were caught unawares by the full-throttle rock show, the songs having not aged as much as one would think for a band dubbed “Prince Meets Bon Jovi” its heyday.
Reed made one on-the-run change to the setlist and “Ritual” had a false start but aside from that it was a flawless set from a group of musicians who’ve had two decades between drinks.
An audience member proposed to his girlfriend on stage, an over-enthusiastic female fan had to be forcibly removed and the final encore was an acapella version of the superb “Long Way To Go”.
The band seemed to enjoy each other’s company, partying into the wee hours in a penthouse suite at the hotel. Reed’s solo career is a going concern but on the evidence of New Years, there is a place for a reunited Dan Reed Network on the touring circuit in the US and Europe.
Whatever the future holds, there wasn’t a better way to see in the new year – anywhere.