Live Review: South of Salem album launch show with support from InMe, O2 Academy Bournemouth on 20/01/24

Written by: Juliet Hurwitt

Photos by: Juliet Hurwitt

South of Salem celebrate the launch of 'Death of the Party' with one hell of a party!

January is traditionally a month where people are paying off Christmas, and hunkering down to avoid bad weather. So, who on earth thinks it’s a good month to not only release a second album, but to have a huge party to celebrate? South of Salem (SoS) did, and over eight hundred people agreed with them. Fans travelled south to Bournemouth from many parts of the country, some booking overnight accommodation, all wanting to be part of this ‘I was there’ moment and knowing that this was going to be a very special evening.

The O2 Academy Bournemouth is a Grade II listed building over 100 years old. Originally built as a theatre and music hall, it has always been a space for live performance. The enormously high ceiling and beautiful two tiers of balconies surprisingly provided superb acoustics even for the heaviest of rock bands.

Special guests were InMe, a five-piece, heavy rock band from ‘all over’ the country, and were a perfect opening act for tonight. With a generous forty-five minutes set, they were able to play songs from a new album coming out later this year, as well as celebrating the 20th anniversary of their ‘Overgrown Eden’ album. Popular with the audience, with many of them singing and clapping along, it was a great start to the evening.

As the hall continued to fill up with fans, the anticipation grew for the arrival of South of Salem.

Spoiler Alert: If you’re seeing them on tour you may want to skip to the next paragraph to not spoil the surprise that may/may not be repeated!  Suddenly, the crowd cheered, but they weren’t looking at the stage! Following their eye gaze to the first balcony, four men dressed in black, slowly carried a coffin from the back of the hall down towards the stage! The coffin was placed centre stage, and after a few moments a hand appeared out the top, then a body sat up! Joey! Cheers and applause exploded from the audience, and then the four other members of the band arrived on stage, and exploded in to their first song Let us Prey complete with pyrotechnics, and the pom-pom dancers. Simple, effective, memorable opening, that I think Ozzy or Alice would have been proud of (on more of a budget of course!).

Then it was straight in to The Hate In Me also from the first album, before playing a track from the new Death of The Party; Stitch The Wound and three songs later Static. Eventually pausing for a chat, Joey remarked, “There’s a lot of you out there, and you know the words to the new songs better than I do! Sing a-long to this one,” and the band played Vultures the first track on the new album, straight in to Hellbound Heart. Joey’s vocals sounded amazing, and delivered every song flawlessly. The other band members moved around the stage all the time, as much to interact with the audience as to utilise the adrenaline that was pumping through them. Even behind the drumkit you could see him giving it his all! I don’t know who was fuelling who, the audience to the band, or the band to the audience! Probably a two-way flow to be honest. The atmosphere was off the scale, and I couldn’t even see or hear anyone talking at the bar, everyone was that engaged with the band.

A clever intertwining continued between the second and first albums, which complement each other superbly, and SoS provided a very balanced performance of the two. Without trying to mimic the success of The Sinner Takes it All the new album performs on its own merit with ten awesome tracks, seven of which were heard tonight and as expected, sounded excellent live.

Nearing the end of the show, and after playing the title track, Joey asked for the lights to go up to see who’s still here. “Are there any men left here?” The men obligingly cheer. “Are there any ladies left here?” An even bigger cheer and screams. “And anyone in-between as we’re all inclusive in South of Salem? This song is for the ladies though,” and they played Pretty Little Nightmare. The final song was Left for Dead the first single from Death of The Party, and all too soon, as often with these gigs, the band left the stage. The audience wasn’t ready for the party to end and nor were the band, who after a few minutes came back for an encore. Still quite stunned by the fans’ reaction, Joey told us, “When someone suggested this crazy idea of booking the O2 in our hometown, probably Kodi, we all thought he was mad! We never thought we’d fill it, but here you all are, and we can’t thank you enough.”

The final question for tonight was, “Do you want one more?” Cheers and rapturous applause was the reply. “Or there’s another option,” suggested Joey, “how about two more?” Oh, go on then. The final track played from Death of The Party was Jet Black Eyes, but the final, final song for tonight was Cold Day in Hell. And with that the launch party finished, and we all reluctantly left the building, and SoS should continue on an aspiring music career that that they rightly deserve.

The band had worked tirelessly the past few months promoting Death Of The Party throughout social media channels, frequently releasing new songs with great videos to keep people engaged with the forthcoming release, encouraging fans to pre-order to get the album in the charts, and to buy tickets for this live show. Their work paid off with the album charting at number nine in the iTunes album chart [verified], apparently number two in the iTunes metal album chart, just behind Saxon at number one [unverified], and undoubtedly there’s more good news in the pipeline.

But the cherry on the proverbial cake was definitely the turn out tonight who packed the O2 Academy Bournemouth. It was a risk SoS took, and it paid off in bucket loads. A true-life example of ‘build it and they will come’ albeit with a lot of hard work.


South of Salem
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