Gig review: Gun, Dan Reed Network and FM at O2 Academy Leeds

Gun. Picture: John McMurtrie
Gun. Picture: John McMurtrie
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The Big 3-0 tour was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see three bands playing the albums (in full) that were released in 1989.

FM were playing Tough It Out, The Dan Reed Network went through the Slam album in its entirety, and Gun were Taking On The World once more. We managed to catch up with Dante Gizzi before the tour kicked off, and we were invited to watch Gun sound check before the big show kicked off.

The O2 Academy isn’t the warmest place on the planet at the best of times, perhaps even comparable to the Arctic Circle, however, seeing a band that you have admired from afar for a few decades, testing each instrument to get the levels just right, and then erupting in to half of their set for what felt like was just myself and the roadies was an experience that will stay with me for a very long time indeed.

What made that experience better, was Gizzi walking over to have a quick conversation about how I should hang around and watch the other bands sound check, as I was guaranteed to walk away with a new favourite band. He wasn’t wrong.

The first band of the night were FM playing their Tough It Out album from start to finish, and warming the crowd up nicely for the other two acts that were due to hit the stage. Hailing originally from the big smoke, those London boys are still at the top of their game, and Steve Overlord (lead vocals/guitarist) can still hit every note as it was written 30 years ago.

Heeding Dantes’ words of wisdom, I eagerly awaited for The Dan Reed Network to hit the stage with songs from their Slam album. Dante Gizzi hit the nail on the head, the funk basslines, powerful drums, guitars that were like the voices of a thousand angels, and vocals that just hit the spot were flying out left, right and centre. I had just discovered one of the most energetic and brilliant sounding bands almost 30 years too late.

Gun kicked their set off with the first track from their Taking On The World album, Better Days, which was delivered with style and aplomb, and received with thunderous applause. Three songs in, and Gizzi announced that in reality their first album was only around 45 minutes long so they were going to play a couple of other well-known tunes from their back catalogue – cue their cover of Word Up and the room exploding with excitement; Nobody expected them to play that track.

As far as I was concerned, they were sounding just as fresh as the day they formed Gun, and the album sounded like it was brand new and on its first UK tour.