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Danny Vaughn + Vega @ JB's Dudley (10/12/10)

posted 25 Jul 2011, 15:08 by Paul Woodward   [ updated 25 Jul 2011, 15:13 ]
Review by Woody
Photos by Paul Jasper
Tonight’s gig at JBs could quite possibly be my last ever gig at my favourite venue, so whilst I was really excited about seeing my new favourite band Vega and the always good Danny Vaughn, I was little downbeat on my way to JBs. Since the current owners have decided to retire at the end of the year, a search was on to find new owners to carry on the JBs legacy – a search that’s been full of ups and downs, but as things stand it isn’t looking good. So tonight was going to be an end of an era for me personally as the venue has played host to some of my favourite gigs, it was definitely going to be emotional. It is truly a shame for the local music scene that the venue has not been saved.

When I first heard about Vega what seems a lifetime ago now, I’ve been biting at the bit to hear the end result and see the band live. Finally having AOR song writing geniuses Tom & James Martin back in the game with their own band was not only fantastic news but with them hooking up with one of my favourite current British singers Nick Workman was just the icing on the cake. Now their awesome debut album “Kiss Of Life” is out and is creating major waves only one question remained… can they cut it live too?

I know Nick has received some criticism in the past in some of the press for his live performances but that has always left me totally confused and convinced the journo hasn’t seen the same front man as me! Nick has always been a strong live performer and his stage presence has always been entertaining and he takes on the responsibility as front man and main focal and vocal point of the band with open arms.

As the band took to the stage, I had a holy crap its Mike Dagnell moment, as joining the Vega live line-up is Mike Dagnell on bass formerly of Midlands melodic rockers Dante Fox! Being down the front Mike gave me a nod as the band kicked into their first song. Also I knew the band wanted to have a two guitar live line-up so the Martin’s drafted in an old friend Nick Horne, who guested on a few tracks on the album, so they could recreate the big guitar sound present on the album in the live arena. I do hope both Mike and Nick get drafted in as permanent members of the band as they both did a top notch job tonight. Mike’s well experienced, especially on the live front, and I think he would be great for the band and Nick Horne shone with his guitar work most notably on some kick ass melodic solos.

There was a decent sized crowd in by the time Vega took to the stage and whilst the bar proppers remained at the bar in case it fell over or they ran out of beer, they definitely made their voices heard during the course of the set. A few did head down to the front and I needed to get in my spot before someone nicked it – I didn’t want to be having to slap anyone on my last gig at JBs.

Considering the album had only been out for a week, the band got a fantastic reaction with whoops and cheers following every single song. Obviously a fair few hardcore Vega fans have developed already and
definitely a few more fans were won. You could tell by their faces that the band were touched and grateful at the reaction they were receiving as tonight was a real test of their music. Because it doesn’t matter how many glowing reviews the album gets in the press the true success or failure of a band lies heavily with the record buying public – and judging by how loud the crowd were tonight, I think the band have a very long and bright career ahead.

I did initially worry as the band kicked into their first song, “Into The Wild” that something didn’t seem right. I thought, “No not tonight, everything has to be perfect, a bad first impression could kill the band.”

I think the band may have had trouble hearing themselves. Thankfully this worry was very quickly dismissed as the band hit their stride and Nick’s vocals just went from strength to strength. “Staring at the Sun” came next, my favourite song – good times! The crowd seemed to love this one too. And for those yet to be converted, the pomp fuelled goodness of “One of a Kind” should ensure that they are now, with its undeniably catchy sing-along chorus.

Next up was one of Vega’s more traditional sounding songs “Stay With Me”, which Nick dedicated to JBs. Nick took a quick opportunity to say how much he loved the venue and that he’d enjoyed playing there in various bands over the years. He added, that it would be a great shame to see the venue go and tonight was going to be an emotional night for himself especially, if this was the last time he got to perform here. He then proceeded to thank individual staff members and the owners for all their work, friendliness and help over the years. This was of course met with a great cheer from the JBs regulars.

I’m sure “Hearts of Glass” is destined to be a live classic, the band threw themselves full force into this one and the crowd lapped it up, with us all singing the “Hey,hey,hey” bit from the chorus claiming he couldn’t hear us! You could tell it meant a lot to the guys on stage.

Nick’s a great front man, he can work the crowd and is entertaining to watch with his emotive and expression filled performance-style, definitely one of the best live front men in the biz, oh and he’s a fantastic singer too! (brown-nose mode).

The band has a real humble attitude and that shows in their appreciation of the crowd. I’m not sure if the lack of Rock star attitude will go against them in the long run - hopefully not. I’m sure the ‘we just write songs and hope people enjoy them attitude’ will endear more people to them, but I do feel like slapping them all and shouting “do you NOT know who you are?!” The band play well together and the camaraderie shown onstage makes them a pleasure to watch, even newbie Mike is welcomed into the fold with ease. The band plays like they have been doing this for years and loving every minute of it.

If you couldn’t tell, I’ve been a big Martin Bro’s fan boy for more years than I care to admit, so it was an absolute dream come true to finally see these guys perform and they played like the pros they are. Meanwhile, James’ keyboards wonderfully bringing everything to life – nice and loud - and Dan is quickly becoming one of my favourite drummers; he has a great style to his playing which gives the band a real oomph factor, so the songs not only have a great beat but also a heavier stance.

The quirky “A N Other” keeps the party rolling, before they kick into the ballad “What It Takes” (or as it should be known “He says , She says”). Personally I wasn’t sure if this would bring the atmosphere down, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. This song was born to be played live; it really comes to life live – the song seemed rawer and more powerful and ohhhh so good!

Next was a turn for James to really shine on “S.O.S” – hairs on the back of the
neck time! Whilst the entire set was great, every song just seemed better than the last and I just kept thinking, “No its this song that’s my highlight of the set, only for it to be replaced by the next. Can the band cut it live? Oh hell yeah, they proved that beyond any shadow of a doubt tonight!

Before the final song Nick takes another opportunity to thank everyone at JBs and that he hopes this is not the last time he and VEGA play here and he asks a silent hall for one final call for JBs, what he got was probably the loudest roar I’ve ever heard in all my years gigging at the venue! The last song was of course Vega’s single and the title of their debut album “Kiss Of Life”, it is undoubtedly giving it to the melodic rock scene!

I heard Kiss of Life a long time ago, and I’m extremely familiar with the song and I have to say given the rather awesome album this was one of the songs I was least looking forward too, but this song is killer, live! It really took on a whole new power and energy and reinvigorated my love of the song. It’s a brand new melodic rock sing-along anthem for the next generation, and the band belted it out like a rebel call to the fans with Nick tipping the mike to the crowd throughout the song’s massive chorus for the fans to get in on the act!

Just before the band leave the stage, Nick gathers everyone at the front to take a bow which is met by another huge cheer and applause. This is the start of something very special – and we were there at the start of it! I think 2011 is going to be a big year for this band......

Danny Vaughn is another one of my favourite singers and I’ve seen him live more times than I have any other musician and he always delivers. Not only does he have one of the strongest voices within in the genre, he is also a charismatic and versatile performer. When he performs with Tyketto he gives you the full on rock n roll front man; solo he is more relaxed and intimate with his audience but he remains one of the most entertaining singers around.

I’ve been very curious about what songs Danny would play tonight. as on the ‘Inspirations & Aspirations’ tour Danny planned to play a few covers of songs that have inspired him over the years. Normally too many cover songs have me yawning and I don’t go and watch tribute bands, but having seen Danny countless times I’m actually quite looking forward to what he might play. Obviously it would give his fans an insight into his influences, likes and also for the Vaughn regulars, offer up something new for this show with no new album to promote.

Danny kicks off with “Bad Water”, a song I hadn’t heard live in what feels like a lifetime. Its a great rockin’ start to the set, which the crowd greet like an old friend. The first cover is Mr Big’s “Daddy, Brother, Lover & Little Boy”, and I have to say I really enjoyed it and the crowd seemed to take to it as well – being a Mr Big fan obviously helps!

“Is That All There Is” comes a lot earlier in the set than I thought, but this song always goes down immensely well - with the Vaughn regulars singing along! Danny took an opportunity to thank all the members of staff at JBs, mentioning that he was sadden by the current situation at the club and hoping that a new buyer would be found – again this is met with applause and cheers from the crowd.

I’ve seen Danny with various performers over the years, but tonight is an all new solo band. Mainly they come from the Ultimate Eagles whom Danny also sings for, Chris Phillips on guitar, Ryan Aston on drums, Chris Childs (yes the Thunder/The Union 4 stringer) on bass and also Jon Pease on keyboards whom Danny met on the ill fated ‘The 80’s Rocked’ project – a project Danny mentions we haven’t heard the last of. Have to say I was quite impressed with Pease on keyboards, great to hear another talented keyboardist!

I have to say I’m not a fan of the Beatles but Danny’s version of “Magical Mystery Tour” was quite good and not an obvious choice for him to cover.

We get another Danny solo classic in “Shadowland”, which the crowd enjoy immensely – its another song which hasn’t been aired in a while. Danny says that in his solo music he tries to show some of his influences regardless of style and on all his albums there’s always something a little ‘off the wall’ for us to enjoy and the following cover was the inspiration for his own song which followed, Stevie Wonder’s “You Haven’t Done Nothing” and “Stone Monkey”. Its perhaps a little too funky for me but Danny’s performance still managed to captivate the crowd.

Danny goes way back to the start of his career for his next song “Black & Blue” by Waysted, a song he says he wrote about his sister and a true highlight of the set. Danny always likes to have his acoustic guitar out on his solo shows, and this does add a different element to his performance, and whilst he is known purely as a singer his ease with the guitar is amazing to watch. Obviously with the Tyke’s he doesn’t get much opportunity to get the ol’ acoustic out but he takes full vantage at his solo shows.

Next we get another killer performance for a cover of The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes”.

Then we get another oldie but goodie in the form of the hook-filled rocker “Haunted” - another highlight for me that reminds me that its about time we got another solo album! The band then cover Led Zeppelin’s “Gallows Pole” which goes down really well, then another original in the form of “Carry Me Home” before their version of Blackfoot’s “Train, Train”. They’re a band who Danny says he’s a massive fan of. To me given the style of Blackfoot it was a shock to learn they didn’t break America until after they had broke England!

With the recent loss of Ronnie James Dio I thought Danny would cover a Dio song, but wasn’t sure which song would suit his voice best or indeed what he would choose to cover – tonight we got “Don’t Talk To Strangers” which Danny pulls off magnificently!

Danny finishes the set with two of his own songs - the awesome “Fearless” - another great song dusted off and that went down a storm and finally “The Voice” rounds off a great set.

The band leave the stage to massive applause and cheers to which Danny respond’s “Come on JBs, we can’t lose this!”

I do fear that without JBs, opportunities to see Danny perform live are going to be very rare, as I’ve only ever seen Danny perform solo at one other venue. That wasn’t a West Midlands venue either, so losing JBs could mean this is the last ever Vaughn gig I ever see – which adds a real personal sadness to how I felt about this gig. Fingers crossed the Tyke’s will still have opportunity to play in the Midlands, they have played Wolverhampton Wulfrun twice since their reformation, so hope remains!

For the deserved encore, the band kick straight into the Tyke’s melodic rock anthem “Forever Young” to a rapturous reception and of course everyone sings along. If you don’t like this song you probably don’t like melodic rock!

Danny then covers Thin Lizzy classic “The Rocker” which I really enjoyed and was really impressed with Danny’s performance of the song – first thing I did when I got home was bung on the original, very very loudly! “I’m A Rocker”!!!!!!!

Alone on stage Danny takes it down for a very emotional performance of the Tyke classic ballad “End Of Summer Days” – an unusual end to a set normally, but tonight it was very apt. As the crowd applauds he comes to the front of stage tapping his chest and looking round thanking everyone and looking genuinely touched and emotional.

During the set, Danny says he sees a lot of familiar faces, something you know is true, and he has a way of making you feel like you’re watching a friend performing as opposed to a rock star.

It was always going to be an emotional night for me, and I’m glad I got one last great gig at JBs to remember it by wit it featuring the start of the most exciting young melodic rock band of the moment and seeing one of my favourite singers of all time – a great melodic rock send off to the venue that has been very supportive of this genre. I’d be lying if I didn’t shed a few tears when I got home; with a beer in hand and “Fearless” on the stereo, goodbye JBs, thanks for the memories and kick ass gigs – gone but NEVER forgotten!