A great turn out for the opening gig at The Rock Den on Saturday 27th, January. Two bands, Suffer No Fools and The Hot One Two, making their debuts, and Hollowstarr, returning for their second outing.

Hailing from Ealing, Suffer No Fools were up first. Formed in 2015 they wasted no time in releasing their seminal EP, Songs For The Restless Youth, the same year. The set included three tracks from that EP, Abyss, Prey and the excellent The Bombing Campaign, along with Egypt, Subversion and two tracks, Sons of Nothing and Bronze Bull, which will form part of their forthcoming, as yet untitled, EP. Using the best of their influences to create something contemporary with a nod to the past they offer up ‘the speed and melody of Metallica, the groove of Rammstein and the crushing edge of Killswitch Engage.’ Can’t argue with that. Plenty of energy and enthusiasm and a good solid performance by Ali Khan (Vocals), Mike Taylor (Drums) and brothers Alex and Jamie Bain (Bass and Guitar respectively). It is worth noting that Jamie Bain stood in for regular guitarist Jamie Newdeck and had to learn the songs at short notice. This may have taken the edge off their normal stage show as, quite understandably, he had to concentrate on playing rather than performing. Fair play to him and the band though for going ahead anyway.
Great way to open the evening and a band to keep an eye on.

You know your in for a treat when you have to fight your way to the front before a band comes on. Having bought a good following with them, Cambridge’s latest addition to the Rock family, The Hot One Two took to the stage. From the first note it was clear why that have a good solid fan base and have got many a tongue wagging. Josh Hill (Vocals), Nick Manners(lead guitar/Backing vocals), Nick Blackburn (Bass and Backing Vocals), Jim Guy (Guitar) and Joe Chivers on drums, have a great stage presence and an in your face attitude backed up by contagious riffs, spine tingling solos and good heavy drum bashing. The set included, Flush, Neon, Martial Law and Better Than You Know (Video coming soon) from their excellent debut EP, Come What May (2017), along with Bleed On Me, Big Shot, Something Real and their latest track Chains. And what a set it was too. They have a great live show and leave nothing on the stage except pools of sweat and weeping floorboards. Pretty much the same way the crowd experienced it too. Even one of their fans photobombing the photobombing of the Den regulars. Brilliant. Bombfest!! Considering the band only formed in 2017 they are a tight and polished unit that know exactly what to give the crowd. A fantastic set of classic rock with a modern twist that may have seen lesser bands than headliners Hollowstar running for the door.

Hollowstar though, also from Cambridgeshire, are made of stern stuff and know they’re up there with the best, so held no fear and hit the stage next (we’d bolted and electrifed the doors anyway). As well as winning the NMG Breakthrough Artist award in 2016, they have also shared stages with the likes of Chantel McGregor, Toseland, Barns Courtney and The Wholls, whilst receiving regular airplay on BBC Introducing. Again, from the first note, the crowd were on their side and rocking, airing, bombing and horning for all they were worth. Hard not to with a set featuring tracks from the superb debut EP, Some Things Matter (2016), such as the punchy, sing-a-longable Lay Down, the rifftastic Guilty, Future City, New Age Lullaby and, after sharing a bottle of Cloven Hoof rum with the crowd, Feel The Burn (for some Den regulars this automatically puts them at the top of the list for entry into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame). In addition, Joe Bonson (Vocals/Bass), Phil Haines and Tom Collett on guitars and drum worrier Jack Bonson let loose on tracks, While I’m Gone, Let You Down, Sweet Suicide, All I Gotta Say, In My Dreams and the excellent Rock & Roll Queen finale. Not forgetting a great cover of Free’s, Wishing Well (yes, we did sing along and put down our guns in case we shot ourselves). We like to see things through properly and, I am fairly sure, an innocent bystander would have been suitably amazed at the prevalence of Paul Rodgers impersonators. Absolutely banging set from a quality band. They’ll be back and so will we. The sooner the better.

So, how to sum up? Well, why not let the bands do it.

From Suffer No Fools;
‘Thanks again for having us Dean, it was a pleasure and I really mean that. What a great bunch of people who came out last night, an awesome crowd. We would love to come back again in the future if the offer is ever there.’

And from The Hot One Two;
‘Morning Dean, we just wanted to say thanks again for giving us the chance to play last night, we loved every minute of it. Hope you did to and would love to come back. Cheers from all of us at THOT.’

Bands wanting to play the Den again is what it is all about. There is no higher praise for what it set out to achieve.
So, all that’s left to say is a big thank you to all the bands, punters and staff for another awesome night of live music. Special thanks also, to the mighty Harp on his final night as sound engineer. Here from the beginning producing quality sound month after month. A top bloke as well. You’ll be missed. If you could take a leaf out of Hollowstar’s book and hand out some free booze I’m sure you will also be given ‘Legend’ status. Hope to see you down at the Den having a boogie at some time. Cheers and all the best.
Steve Ellis \m/

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