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 Gaskin/Southbound 17th May 2014 at The Rock Den (Live Review)

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PostGaskin/Southbound 17th May 2014 at The Rock Den (Live Review)

The Rock Den, Hatfield, Hertfordshire, UK 17th May 2014

Doesn't time fly? This already should have been my fourth trip to The Rock Den but, thanks to illness in March and the gig in April being cancelled due to red tape, I'm actually only going back for the first time since February, however, it certainly doesn't feel like three months! With the clocks now changed and evenings much lighter, the UK in the grip of some fabulous weather, the FA Cup Final on the same day and the main support act pulling out at the last minute the crowd attendance for Gaskin & Southbound was a little bit thinner than it had been earlier in the year, but this still wasn't going to stop us all from enjoying another fabulous evening of top notch music!

Firstly Southbound (who had only been added to the bill a few days before) now found themselves as the one and only support band and were given a much longer set time than they were expecting. For some bands this might have caused a problem, even more so for these lads who had an average age of 17!, but they rose to the occasion amazingly well all things considered. Southbound play mainly covers but they are gradually introducing their own songs. For such a young band, their chosen genres of Blues and Classic Rock was actually a bit of a surprise (even they were worried that they might struggle supporting a metal band) but they proved themselves very worthy and, starting off with some Hendrix, soon had the crowd firmly on their side.
All five of them display great confidence, especially guitarist, harmonica player and backing vocalist Elliot Stout who looked absolutely at ease on stage. Lead Vocalist Tom Ford has a good all round voice that will develop as he does, second guitarist Jordan Carter and bassist Dan Collins also make a good team. Tiny drummer Aaron Virciglio (he looks about eight years old) has heaps of natural talent, but, and this is coming from a person who also started playing drums in bands at around the same age, needs to calm down a little, especially on the original songs. Blues is about emotion and groove and you need to let the song breathe and the guitar sing whilst the drums and bass just keep the beat. He's a better drummer than I'll ever be but as I've said a thousand times before 'less is sometimes more'!

Having said that, their own songs fitted very nicely into a set of so many classics and they also played a thoroughly rousing version of Layla, which should have ended the set. Southbound are an extremely talented young group and I hope they see my comments as constructive criticism rather than a slight on their performance. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing them again soon!


During the break just about everyone got a drink and went outside to soak up some more of the sun but it was soon time for headliners Gaskin to take to the stage!

First appearing on the scene in 1980 and led by Paul Gaskin, they were another band that, like so many others, never made the impact or breakthrough that they probably deserved. Considered part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement, they were more melodic in sound than a lot of their peers, akin to early Def Leppard than say Witchfynde or some of the harder edged bands. After releasing two albums though, unfortunately things fell apart. Many years, many stories and another two albums have passed since then and that is something I will write about more in the future, but for now I have a gig to review!

Opening with 'Tomorrow Today' (from the album 'Stand Or Fall' released in 2000) three things were very apparent. Firstly, Gaskin sound as good now as they did over 30 years ago, secondly, for a band that doesn't play live constantly, they were extremely tight and thirdly Stephen Loveday (Sound Engineer at The Rock Den) gives everyone an incredible on stage mix. With original Gaskin drummer David John Norman, back in the fold since 2006, firing on all cylinders behind a gorgeous Pearl double bass drum kit Gaskin delivered a near 90 minutes of pure class. Paul might not have the power of a Bruce Dickinson vocally, but it's more than fair to say that Gaskin have their own individual sound. Guitarist Andrew Solomon, with the band since 2000, is a great fluid player and soloist and whilst he has a different style from Paul they complement one another very well. Bassist Mick Cross is another tight player and his perfectly audible bass lines added to the power of the drums. Playing songs from all four of their albums Gaskin have always had a good ear for melody mixed with power, a point slammed home by a thunderous performance of 'Edge Of Madness', title track from their most recently released album.

Being familiar with the earlier material, but sadly never having had the chance to see the band live before this gig, Gaskin actually come across even better on stage than they do on CD. A live setting is definitely where they excel but not only musically as Paul Gaskin's in between song banter is also very amusing. Clearly the band thoroughly enjoyed themselves and that shone through in the performance. We, in the crowd, also seemed to be loving every second and I couldn't quite believe it when they announced the last song because 85 minutes had gone by in a flash.


I met up with Paul after the gig for a quick chat and he is as much a gentleman off stage as on and it was an absolute pleasure to finally meet him after so many years. Not only did Gaskin prove they have a lot of life left in them yet but also that Dean Archer and the rest of the crew at The Rock Den are continuing to deliver their promise of quality music at a quality venue. Long may both continue! - (Gaskin FB Group Page)

Review written exclusively for Brutiful Entertainment by Rick Tilley

Photos by Helen Tilley for Brutiful Entertainment

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