So, having just got the roof nailed down at The Rock Den after last month’s gig, it was swiftly blown off again this weekend by The Wicked Jackals, The Deep and Oliver Dawson Saxon. It was rumoured that a stray tile went through the windscreen of the International Space Station and knocked half a cup of cold coffee off the dashboard! This though, might just be fake news.

What wasn’t fake, was the performance of The Wicked Jackals (formerly Sons of Anarchy) making their third appearance at the Den. They’re “Loud, Mean and Mighty Unclean” and once again they delivered a full on, crowd involving, blockbuster set. These guys always deliver. Marty Venus (AKA Captain Black Sparrow) on guitar, Ollie Tindall (Vocals/Guitar), Lex Gifford (Bass) and James Norkett on drums, let loose on tracks Hang ‘em High, Gone to the Dogs, Raise a Glass, Going to Brazil, Ain’t Gonna Change and Scream.  If that wasn’t enough there was a great cover of Tina Turner’s Nut Bush City Limits (swap the words Nut Bush for Rock Den) and a you have a great sing-a-long. Of course, in addition to the powerhouse set, crowd walker Norkett takes the cowbells and other percussion items into the throng for them to bang out their own tunes that are almost, but not quite, in tune with the band. A humdinging start to the evening setting the stage nicely for NWOBHM awesomeness The Deep.

Formed in 2012, from the ashes of the early 80’s line-up of New Wave Of British Heavy Metallers Deep Machine, The Deep released their brilliant debut album, Premonition, in 2015, from which, six tracks featured in their set. Now, short of having your body covered in Hoisin Sauce-drenched crispy duck and then being given a six-foot tongue to lick yourself clean, fewer things in life are more joyous than this. The stunning vocals of Tony Coldham are unleashed on tracks Premonition, The Rider, All I Want, Night Stalker, Out Of Touch and You Take My Breath Away, and are ably backed by the excellent Mick Feleppa and Paul Smith on guitars and vocals, Phil Reeve on bass/vocals and Alan Mogg on drums. There is a great ‘back in time’ feel to the tracks yet they feel as fresh and contemporary as anything you’re likely to have your ears blessed with today. Great melodies and huge choruses litter the tracks and you are just left wanting more. Much more. Just epic. The set also included two superb new tracks, Rains and Dead Man Walking which will feature on their upcoming EP and album respectively. I for one can’t wait. Top drawer stuff.

So, with things at fever pitch, more old school brilliance with the awesome Oliver Dawson Saxon. The crowd were looking forward to this and for good reason. Founder members of Saxon, guitarist Graham Oliver and bassist Steve ‘Dobby’ Dawson, along with Seventh Son’s, Bri O’Shaughnessy (vocals), Gav Coulson (guitar) and Paul Oliver on drums, set about melting the crowd with a set featuring classic tracks Rock ‘N’ Roll Gypsy, Frozen Rainbow, Dallas 1PM, Strong Arm of the Law, Denim and Leather, Crusader, Power and the Glory, Princess of the Night, Motorcycle Man, And the Bands Played On, Wheels of Steel, and 747 (Strangers in the Night). This was a crispy duck moment with a side of bacon thrown in. Down the front headbanging, airing, and sing-a-longing ensued as the crowd got sweatier and sweatier. Weddings and football faded into insignificance as the ears were being battered with glorious tuneage and vocals as your face was being twanged off by a guitar swinging Mr Oliver? These tunes ring in your ears for hours after the gig has finished and the neck ache lasts for days. The band has a great stage presence and O’Shaughnessy has a great affinity with the crowd, leaving you with the feeling that they are enjoying the set as much as you. Absolutely brilliant. \m/

In a world of fake news and events involving sums of money we can barely comprehend, it’s great to have something down to earth and real. In your face real. Loud and live. All for the price of an Iced Caramel Macchiato or Iced Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte, whatever they are. Get out there. Support the venues and the bands, and for a few glorious hours let yourself be melted into oblivion. It works wonders for the soul. Thanks again to all the team at the Den for another top night of live music and to the bands, who, for a brief moment, allow us mere mortals to be Rock Gods. Forget the fake stuff. All the above is true. Well, all except the space station bit obviously. Those guys never let their coffee go cold.  \m/

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