The Rock Den in Hatfield is a great venue with a fantastic sound system, but it’s been a while since I’ve attended a gig there. With Soldier announcing a break to concentrate on other activities for a while, I really made sure I made the journey for this. For those London based people who may want to venture out of the usual venues, it’s really quick and easy to get too from King Cross in less than 20 minutes usually, I myself found that driving was the best option.
KAINE open up, the Rock Den’s house band, whilst I have seen these guys many times before, tonight they do feel at home on the stage. With a monthly appearance at this venue, Kaine opt for a different stage set and play some of the material from their forthcoming release, which seems to go down nicely. Over the times I have witnessed this band, they are now starting to progress their stage presence and move around a touch more, especially bassist Stephen Ellis. The “Rock Den Massive” gave them a good supportive show.
Next up are the fantastic SEVEN SISTERS, if you read my review of their debut album, you’ll know I am a big fan. This is the first time I have seen them outside of the M25 and being off the back of a week-long tour of the UK (with Flu I might add too), I was expecting a great show, and boy did they deliver and then some. They have come a long way since I last saw them and the addition of Javi Rute on bass cements the on stage chemistry. The twin guitars though, wow, synced and precise, soft and emotional when required and delivered by a band clearly enjoying themselves. The joy on their faces evident for all. Starting with their new album opener ‘Destiny’s Calling’ we settle into the show, but by the time they get to ‘Cast to the Stars’ (for the guitarist’s amongst you referring to guitarist Graham’s mic announcement), they have the crowd in their pockets. As I look around the room, there’s a clear air of admiration. Their current video ‘Highways of the Night’, the soft and heavy epic ‘The Silk Road’ and ‘Pure As Sin’ round off the album tracks, all displaying deft musical precision and much virtuosity. Closing with their 7 inch single ‘Lost in Time’ and their demo money shot ‘No Guts, No Glory’, this was a perfect metal set list. Progress with recording and touring has clearly been in their favour, I especially like the synchronised on stage shape throwing and choreography, they have learnt their craft well and present themselves better than some of the industries founding bands. I sense good things in the future for this band.
NWoBHM stalwarts SOLDIER enter the stage in the Halloween spirit, singer Richard Frost soon found out that his monk robes were pretty hot indeed! I do watch with a certain sombre mood as I know they are going to leave the live circuit for a while as I mentioned at the beginning, but still once you get immersed into their newer tracks such as ‘Bedlam’ or even the reluctant addition of ‘Dead Man’s Curve’ the crowd and myself are in the zone. The crowd interaction was consistent and the band have clearly made The Rock Den their home in recent times which was obvious by the crowd heckling. Members of the band clearly have a love for Thin Lizzy, and at each intermission between tracks there are shouts for ‘Rosalie’ (itself a Bob Seger cover) in which guitarist and founding member Ian Dick teases the crowd with the opening riff every now and again. But getting back to the Soldier tracks ‘Dogs of War’ is immensely powerful as are a medley of songs from their ‘Sins of the Warrior’ album. These include the title track and the great ‘Murderous Night’. Those earlier hecklers were finally treated to what they had requested numerous times proclaimed by frontman Frost “you want a NWoBHM band to play a Thin Lizzy track”. It went down a storm and during this track the band were introduced to the crowd. It was a certainty what the closing track would be, ‘Sheralee’ has had a few different versions over the years, the ‘Dogs of War’ version was aired initially and it went down a storm. I noted an eye of admiration between the two original member’s guitarist Ian Dick and bassist Steve Barlow as the last few notes were played, a very poignant moment I must say. But whatever happens in the future the band did us proud and the venue made all of the bands proud.
As Soldier’s Richard Frost stated on stage, if you don’t support the younger bands, buy a shirt, a cd, and support the promoters who put time and money into such nights as this, then the scene will become a lot more fragmented. A great night, a great venue and sound, a simply awesome all round!
By Paul Maddison