D-A-D and Hangarvain Review at Academy 3, Manchester, 20th November 2019
There was a chill in the air as I headed into Manchester to see D-A-D, the Great Danes formerly known as Disneyland After Dark, before changing their name to avoid legal action from Mickey Mouse creator Disney. Read a more detailed biography here.
This opening night of this tour, which follows the release of their twelfth studio album A Prayer For The Loud was to be a bucket list gig for me. My first recollection of D-A-D was watching the video Sleeping My Day Away on Headbangers Ball about thirty years ago and being instantly awoken, from my half-asleep slump on the couch! Yet, in all the intervening years, I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing them live. Well, do good things come to those who wait? I was about to find out.
Support band Hangarvain
Support on A Tour For The Loud comes from Italy’s Hangarvain. As you walked into the Academy 3, their merchandise desk was very much in your face selling CDs, t-shirts and handcrafted keyrings. Despite the chill in the air Johnny Cash’s dulcet tones and a Ring of Fire heralded their arrival on stage. Hangarvain consists of two key players, Sergio on lead vocals and Alessandro on guitar and backing vocals. They are, however, joined by a rhythm section for the tour. Gabriele on Bass, Simone on Drums. Alessandro in a colourful animal print shirt took to the stage first. After the intro, a hard-hitting drum beat rang out and Sergio strolled on cool as Cash picking up his tambourine.
Sergio was happy to pose for photos as he covered the stage, the man in black, with his broad smile and interesting light-up microphone stand, which had a touch of the Star Wars lightsaber about it, was like a happy Darth Vader! Encouraging the audience to get their hands up he had people singing along to the song Get On with its grungy vibe. He then ‘got on’ down into the pit, holding his microphone out to the audience before an effortless stride back up on to the stage.
Keep Falling from their 1986 album Freaks had a bass-driven Seattle sound. Sergio told us that the next song was by a young band from Canada, who aren’t massively known here, a song called Old Train by Monster Truck, which suited Hangarvain’s sound and style and had people singing along. Taking his hat off Sergio said ‘It’s a real pleasure to be here tonight. Thank you.’ and added that the next song was from their first album. ‘A song about all the people in our lives who aren’t with us anymore.’ Father’s Shoes, a mellow song with a poignant meaning reminiscent of Pearl Jam’s Even Flow, which had Alessandro kneeling and after the applause at the end he said ‘Thank you, we really appreciate that.’ To which a voice from the crowd shouted ‘You’re doing really well’ and quick as a flash he replied ‘I’ll wait for you at the merch.’
Next came a song from their new album The Great Machine which, Sergio said we would probably recognise, and although he didn’t tell us the name of the song, it was instantly recognisable as Black Betty, the 20th-century African-American work song covered by several artists, Ram Jam‘s 1977 cover, probably been the most well-known version. A popular song that had the audience singing along to the bam-a-lams.
Nearing the end now Alessandro said they were going to leave the stage to the legends with a song from their second album Sliding to Hell which started a bit Iron Maiden. Then just in case, we hadn’t caught the band name Sergio said ‘Please follow us we’re called Hangarvain. Thank you. God bless you all. How could anyone refuse such a polite request?
Into The Hangar
Rock Down The House
A Coke Shot
Old Train (Monster Truck cover)
Black Betty (cover)
Sliding to Hell
Sergio Toledo Mosca- Lead Vocals
Alessandro Liccardo- Guitar and Backing Vocals
Joining them for this tour:
Gabriele Sinatra – Bass
Simone Crimi – Drums
At last, around thirty years since I first saw the video to Sleeping My Day Away I was about to see D-A-D warts and all! The opening march of the Good the Bad and Ugly theme by Ennio Morricone announced the arrival on stage of the Danish cowpunks! Back then I was a teenager (in my dreams anyway) and my introduction to D-A-D live, and the opening song, of the opening night of this tour, was Burning Star. As vocalist Jesper attempted to sing he realised the microphone wasn’t working, but no diva strops here, he just moved to bassists Stig’s mic with a resolute smile whilst they fixed his.
To say the three guitarists are all in their mid-fifties, they have kept in great shape and rocked skin-tight black jeans with panache! Jesper in a denim jacket with suede fringing. Jacob looking like he was going to a funeral in a Top Hat, but alas no tails! Nice studded guitar strap though, but this changed throughout the set. Stig needed no hat or fringing, as his line in two-stringed bass guitars was darn impressive, no more frills required! You’ll hear more about those bass guitars throughout the review. The first one is clear perspex with the words ‘Burning Star’ emblazoned on the strap in bright red. Jesper indicated the guy to his right (our left) and said ‘On guitar, it’s my brother’ as Jacob stepped forward to play some riffs. The song was Evil Twin and whilst not actual twins they are indeed brothers and close in age.
Jihad from their 1989 album No Fuel Left for the Pilgrims, with the album title taken from the chorus of this song. Rim of Hell a more melodic song with Stig now on a cross-shaped black bass guitar which had a head and a neck like the tail end of a plane. Jesper expressive throughout the show with lots of hair flicking and hand gestures, not rude gestures I hasten to add, then told us ‘Listen we’ve made a new album. It didn’t take too long. It wasn’t very hard!’ This got a few titters from the audience. They released it eight years after their last album. Although the band has been absent from the studio, in the intervening years, they have been working and touring.
Jesper suggested every night of the tour should be a Friday night and asked ‘Are you with me? Of course, we were. Nothing Ever Changes with an Alice Cooper meets Aerosmith vibe came next before Everything Glows the opening bars to which, had me thinking of Push It by Salt-N-Pepa! Another all-round guitar change ensued before Jesper announced the title track from the new album. A Prayer For The Loud a bluesy number, popular with the audience which had people nodding in time to the beat and singing along.
Guitar changes again, seeing Stig on a big tan coloured bass with a smaller guitar at the head, before the mellower song Grow or Pay with riffage reminiscent of The Shadows. Jacob looking like a funeral director, all in black with his top hat, was doing his best Hank Marvin impression at the front of the stage and the song had an instrumental end before Jacob flicked a few plectrums out to the crowd. Jesper thanked us and asked ‘Are you ready for a new one?’, of course we were and we got The Sky Is Made of Blues.
Next, we went way back in time, to the band’s debut album Call of the Wild for Jackie O which had Stig on a white bass guitar, shaped like a goat skull with glowing red eyes, and he was singing lead vocals for this punky number before waggling his Horns! Ok – fingers at the end! We stayed with the debut album and Stig leading vocals for Riding With Sue and after the lyrics ‘As she whispered in my ear’ Stig put on a female voice for ‘If you take me there I’ll make you fly …….’ then back to his own voice ‘I didn’t know she was going to die’ another punky number with a bit of riffage from the Stan Jones song Ghost Riders in the Sky interweaved into the song.
Another new one The Real Me a harmonious song reminding me of the band Enuff Z’Nuff. Then time travelling back to 1995 for Reconstrucdead which has a touch of the Nirvana about it. Sticksman Laust Sonne had been taking a back seat until now. A back seat driver on his ‘Drum Limousine’ driving both his drum kit and the rhythm section. At last, he spoke as Jesper introduced him with a ‘Laust, say hello Manchester’ and he did adding ‘Don’t mention Brexit!’ Jesper joked that Laust had been with the band for twenty years, so he was still the new guy and they’d had to send him to evening school before he asked Laust to show us what he was learning. Laust mentioned Highway to Hull, a reference to Hair Metal Heaven, which they played in 2017 before he executed a short, fast drum solo.
As the bouncer handed out much welcome, cups of water the band launched into I Want What She’s Got which put me in mind of Aerosmith’s Same Old Song and Dance. They required some audience participation for Monster Philosophy. Jesper said, ‘I say something, you repeat. Are you ready?’ Jesper sang ‘You’ve got a Monster Philosophy’ and the crowd enthusiastically repeated it back.
Then we came to the last song No Doubt About It, but only the last song of the main set, and the last song we were going to hear from the new album, with a taste of the ZZ Top about it. Jesper held his microphone like a telephone, speaking into it he said ‘Ring, ring. Laust is that you? We gave them our all and they still want more. Laust. Can you come?’ to which Laust replied ‘I’m already here’. Jesper said he would talk to the audience one last time. As it was the first day of the tour his clothes were not too smelly. He came out and mingled with the friendly crowd. Laust muttered ‘Let’s not talk about Brexit!’ to which Jesper said the crowd smelt good and asked Laust to show us what he could do. Getting a chant of ‘Come on Laust, you know we love you’ going. Jesper said he didn’t expect us to know the chorus but he would teach us. ‘No doubt about it. We’re close enough for Rock n Roll’ which wasn’t too difficult to learn and sing along to. He thanked the crowd again before the band went off stage.
A few shouts for ‘more’ and the band came on for some Bad Craziness with Stig on an impressive bass guitar which looked like a rocket with a bullet belt strap. Jesper wanted us to ‘Pretend it’s not Wednesday. You’re ‘underpaid! You’re indisposed. You can phone work and say you’re not coming in because these guys from Denmark told me ‘to sleep my day away’ the very apt song I’d been waiting thirty years to hear live. Splendid it was, with Jacob at the front of stage Jesper and Stig each had one foot on the drum riser, make that pallet!. Jesper executed an impressive jump. what particularly impressed me was that he didn’t knock himself out, as the ceiling isn’t that high! It was worth waiting for and the rest of the crowd thought so too, as the audience erupted, singing, dancing and clapping along.
It could have ended there, on a high, but if you’re going to sleep your day away, you need to come down a notch or two. As a quick change to acoustic guitars was taking place, Jesper asked ‘What happened earlier? The microphone was off, strings were missing’ and a quiet voice, like an aside at the theatre, whispered ‘I take the blame’ Jesper replied ‘It turned out all right. I feel comfortable in Manchester. I feel loved after a tough start’ Then the Binzer brothers on acoustic guitars sang the song Laugh ‘n’ A ½ which if I’m not ‘misunderstood’ reminded me of a stripped-down Electric Crown by Testament.
Stig said ‘We’re going to sing one last song. Thank you for coming.’ The final song had Stig starting off the vocals. With the lyrics including ‘It’s after dark now and Disneyland is closed. It’s the end of the show it’s time to go.’ It’s After Dark, from their debut album, was an appropriate song to end the show. Stig ended the show, as it began, on his clear Perspex bass. This popular show stopper (literally) had people singing along. A final “Goodnight”, some final plectrums flicked, drumsticks thrown, and the curtain closed! (Not literally).
D-A-D had brought a touch of the Magic Kingdom to Manchester for a roller coaster ride through twenty of their songs, new and old. Up to the Burning Star, down to the Rim of Hell, back up to The Sky (is) Made of Blues, then Riding With Sue. A ride lasting nearly two hours before dark set in and the ride was over but only for tonight as, like Disneyland, D-A-D will open (shows) throughout Europe for the next 30 days!
Rim of Hell
Nothing Ever Changes
A Prayer For The Loud
Grow or Pay
The Sky Is Made of Blues
Riding With Sue
The Real Me
I Want What She’s Got
No Doubt About It
Sleeping My Day Away
Laugh ‘n’ a ½
It’s After Dark
Jesper Binzer – Vocals, Guitar
Stig Pedersen – Bass, Vocals
Jacob Binzer – Guitar
Laust Sonne – Drums