South of Salem Review Manchester

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VENUE – Rebellion, Manchester

DATE – 2nd November 2023

Words – Graeme Wright


A few years ago, I saw my first Those Damn Crows show with about eighty people in attendance and got the feeling they were destined for bigger things. I was right, that band are now at the next level and is selling out some pretty big venues and is performing at stadiums and at the Download Festival. I went to see South Of Salem in Manchester at the Rebellion after reading some great reviews of the current tour and from what I saw tonight I expect similar upward movement from this terrific band. The venue was the busiest I’ve experienced in a long time and it’s pretty clear that these boys will be following a similar trajectory to the Crows. To put things simply, this was an absolutely phenomenal show and the crowd in here tonight witnessed something pretty special from this outfit. I’m fairly certain the fan base of this band will help them outgrow the smaller establishments, but while that’s always a shame it’s the only possible outcome for a band as popular as this.

Singer Joey, through his choice of attire, has always come across as a horror film fan, so it’s no surprise that the set (just a few days after Halloween) opens with the Alan Howarth theme from Halloween II. The band bounces onto the stage to a startling roar from the crowd and we are straight into ‘Let Us Prey’, the opening track from their debut album. It’s a thunderous start to the proceedings and it’s immediately apparent that the sound problems that the awesome opening act She Burns Red encountered have been sorted. The crowd are already bouncing around, singing all the words and bellowing the chorus along with Joey.

‘The Hate In Me’ and ‘No Plague Like Home’ follow and a couple of things strike me about this band. The first is that their energy levels are off the scale. They look lean and hungry and have the vibe of a band that knows that they have a great opportunity to ascend through the stratosphere musically. The other obvious difference to me is that while their album was one of my top ten of the year when it was initially released, these songs sound a lot heavier and more vibrant in the live arena than their vinyl counterparts. All bodes well for their new record which is due out soon. ’Death Of The Party’ is new to me and sounds amazing, while ‘Made To Be Mine’ is a slightly slower-paced track that is incredibly melodic as well as being really heavy. This is a difficult balancing act to achieve and South Of Salem have mastered it to perfection.

There is a great bond between the band and their fans (known as “The Coven”) and there is no better display of this when they allow two of their followers up on the stage to get engaged to each other. The hugs and congratulations between the band and the happy couple is genuinely moving. ‘Demons Are Forever’ is melancholic and somehow uplifting, while ‘Left For Dead’ tears the place up. The new song ‘Static’ is up next and on first listen it gets us all really excited about the forthcoming album. The cover of ‘Rebel Yell’ goes down well with the crowd and ‘Dead Hearts Don’t Break’ is possibly the icing on the cake tonight, at least for this writer. ‘Bad Habits (Die Hard) is another new song that fits in seamlessly with the rest of the set. The band then introduced a young guitarist to the stage who joined the band for ‘Pretty Little Nightmare’ and she was that good I assumed she was a member of a well-established band, but apparently that’s not the case! Absolutely superb with a big future.

‘No Plague Like Home’ is the penultimate song for the evening and there is no let up in pace or intensity from both band and audience. The set closes as always with ‘Cold Day In Hell’ which I’ve heard described as a beautiful love song which has always bemused me because it’s utterly sinister. The band eventually left the stage to a rapturous round of applause from a euphoric crowd. This was one of the shows of the year for me and I can’t wait to see what the band get up to next year. One thing is for sure, things won’t be going South for these boys any time soon if you’ll pardon the pun. Great show, a great night, and great musicians. Enough said.


Joey Draper – Vocals

Kodi Kasper – Guitar

Denis Sheriff – Guitar

Darren ‘Dee’ Aldwell – Bass

James Clarke – Drums


  1. Halloween II Theme
  2. Let Us Pray
  3. The Hate In Me
  4. Death Of The Party
  5. Made To Be Mine
  6. Demons Are Forever
  7. Left For Dead
  8. Static
  9. Rebel Yell
  10. Dead Hearts Don’t Break
  11. Bad Habits (Die Hard)
  12. Pretty Little Nightmare
  13. No Plague Like Home
  14. Cold Day In Hell

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