Anyone familiar with Frankie Valli will know that his ‘what a night’ occurred in late December 1963. Well, if he’d been at The Rock Den on Saturday he would have probably been moved to change that to late April 2018! Yes, the Den was torn a new one on Saturday as Black Whiskey, Stonewire and Stormbringer set about blowing the roof off the place.
Black Whiskey, based in Surrey, and formed by the former Xentrix and Hellfighter vocalist, Simon Gordon, were first to let loose. While the band members have found a common musical ground with Classic Rock, they have been involved with genres as diverse as NWOBHM, Thrash Metal, Blues, Alt Rock and Prog Rock. I think it was all on show as, along with Gordon, Kev Ingles (Guitar, ex- 3 State Blues, Swampsnake), Craig Nabbs (Bass, ex –Slaughtered) and Rich Bannister (Drums, ex -Nakedium) loosened the rafters with tracks Heavy Train, Idol Rich, Devil Rides (check out the vid), Hungry for Bullets and Stone Cold Comfort (Heavy Train, 2014) interspersed with tracks from their upcoming Dry Bones album, due out in the summer, including, King Of The Blind, Cheat The Hangman, Bitter Pill, Mirror Lies and Burning Bridges and the title track. A set full of well crafted songs, huge riffs, all-round great playing and delivered with heart and authenticity, setting the bar high for the next band, Stonewire.
Luckily for the punters Stonewire had bought along their big bendy poles and proceeded to jump straight over the said bar. Their sound has been described as classic British Rock with a Southern Twist. Which it is, sort of. However, it also includes Blues, Country and Heavy Metal. Sky Hunter’s soaring rock vocals and gravely blues tones are the perfect front for Gaz Annable and Duncan Greenway (Guitars), Steve Briggs (Bass) and Rob Glasner on drums as they switch seamlessly from riff-laden rock to melodic anthems, underpinning it all with dynamic rhythms and an electrifying performance. A set full of great tracks such as Favourite Bitch, Southern Honey, All That Matters, Fix You, the superb Walk The Line (what a riff), the title track from their 2014 album, When The Crow Flies, One For The Road, Money Talk, FTM, Hero’s Journey and All That Matters from their soon to be released 2nd album. No one could argue with their mission statement, ‘to take rock back to its roots, bluesy yet heavy, melodic but dirty and most of all… fun!’ Might want to add ‘heavy as balls’ to that as well, as adding to Black Whiskey’s rafter loosening, the roof tiles were now exploding over a five-mile radius of the Den. You would have thought, that in terms of bar raising, this was about as high as it was going to get.
You’d be wrong though, because headliners, Stormbringer, as well as bringing the storm, would have made any Olympic pole vaulters in attendance run away in tears and take up knitting. Holy crap. What a set. Any skin left on the crowd’s faces was well and truly melted off as they stood facing the onslaught of Jimi Brown’s rocktastic vocals, Dom Wallace and Jamie Peters’ chunky riff laden guitars, Bass pounding Darren McCullagh’s snarly face antics and the drum busting of Jon Paul Quantrill. Even the walls put ear plugs in! A head banging, foot stomping, horn throwing set including tracks, Rise, Bad Blood (Blood & Rust, 2015), Grinder, Save Me, Welcome To Hell (I think!) from the MMXIII album and Dying Breed, Smother, Don’t Trust Me, Bleed For and Through These Eyes (Born A Dying Breed, 2017). They state that they will rock as hard as they can, wherever they can and have a good time doing it. Well, they certainly fulfilled that promise and more. The albums are superb, but the live show is an absolute must for any rock fan. A monster slice of rock and metal that will make your ears ring for hours after and make you beg for a neck brace and full-body massage. I could hardly get out of bed the next day! Glad I wasn’t called in to collect the roof from the surrounding area and help nail it back down. A stunningly brilliant set worthy of headlining in front of the two other class bands.
Wow! There have been some cracking gigs at the Den and this one was right up there with the best of them. A great turn out too and also a few new faces in the crowd who, judging by their dancing, airing and gracious comments, were suitably impressed and will be back. I think the same applies to the bands who were also full of praise for the venue. Who says live music is dead? I live for nights like this. I’m sure others do too. And why not? An absolute stonker. Still buzzing and already craving the next one. Thanks again to all involved, your efforts are not wasted. Mr Valli, get yourself down to the Den if you really want to see ‘Oh what a night is.’ Fantastic. Give me more. Lots more. \m/ \m/ \m/