O2 Academy, Bournemouth – 29th January 2023

Very few local Dorset based bands have played headline gigs at the O2 Academy in Bournemouth, however no local Metal band have to my knowledge ever headlined here in their own right. Tonight, Bournemouth’s very own success story sees South Of Salem performing a headline gig here after selling over 850 tickets for a gig to launch their new sophomore album “Death of a Party”. At the time of writing the record is already heading quite comfortably into the top twenty of album charts. Since forming in 2019 the band have earned themselves a large loyal following of fans who have a huge appetite for their classic Heavy Metal with large amounts of 80’s sleaze and horror themes.

As the fans from all over the UK roll into the venue, tonight’s support is the legendary Essex creative Metal band InMe. InMe themselves have an impressive CV since forming over 27 years ago. The band’s line-Up now is quite different from back then, founder member Dave McPherson remains to provide his unique vocal skills to his self-written songs. Kicking off with the single “Underdose”; the band’s creative twin-guitar sound fills this large space with Gary Marlow and John O’Keefe providing the melodic goodness.

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The sometimes ferocious rhythms are provided by Tom Dalton on drums and Mike Garrett on bass. Frontman Dave in his grey cardigan and matching fingerless gloves seems pleased to be back on stage for the band’s first gig of the year. To many of the younger people in this crowd; InMe’s material is quite new to them, however there are a handful of us who are relishing hearing these tracks again. The set is made up of mainly tracks from the band’s debut album “Overgrown Eden” including the powerful “Firefly”, the emotive “Her Mask PA” and set closer “Neptune”. Dave promised that a new album is being prepared for future release and more live appearances are planned. Despite InMe’s fine set, most of the crowd are here tonight for the local heroes.

Tonight’s South of Salem take a big leap forward into a whole new world of performance, the bigger venues mean bigger crowds and larger stages. The band have seriously upped the production values with their stage set incorporating a huge backdrop; neon lit coffins, pyrotechnics and billowing smoke CO2 jets – this along with incredibly atmospheric lighting effects.

The band’s entrance to the stage is nothing short of ingenious and something that you won’t have seen anywhere else before. Pallbearers carry a full-size coffin to the stage via the venue’s balcony behind the stage and lay it down at the front. Frontman Joey Draper, thankfully fully alive leaps out to start the bands opening number “Let Us Prey”. Denis Sheriff (Guitar), Kodi Kasper (Guitar), Darren ‘Dee’ Aldwell (Bass) along with James Clarke (Drums) all light up the venue with their powerful allegiance.

The crowd’s reaction is unforgettable, there are young and old alike with their hands in the air singing along with the band. The sheer joy this band provide to their loyal following is something special, this evening is as much about the fans as it is the band.

We are treated to many tracks from the new album including “Stitch In The Wound” and the epic recent single “Static”. Listening to the new album “Romesh Dodangoda” has certainly drawn the best out of the band harnessing the creative abilities, along with some imaginative songwriting. While there are plenty of echoes of their own musical heroes; the material remains modern, original and packs plenty of punch.

South Of Salem
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Equally as important as the music are the visuals and how the band come across. Tonight, with all the additional elements, the band have succeeded in making this a historic night to remember. With Joey’s fantastic frontman credentials and the rest of the band’s seamlessly endless energy, the crowd have been wowed into submission and the band have taken this chance and proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with.

Towards the end of the set, we are gifted to more material from the new album; the dark anthemic Rock anthem “Left for Dead” and the smoulderingly epic “Jet Black Eyes” keeps the band’s momentum high before the evening ends in a wave of sparkling pyrotechnics and confetti cannons. These five guys come to the front of the stage and their smiles say it all, their hard work has brought them to this point, and they all lovingly share this moment with all their fans. It must be said with such an amazing night like tonight, it is going to be hard to top this.

Set Lists
South Of Salem
Let Us Prey
The Hate in Me
Stitch in the Wound
No Plague Like Home
Hellbound Heart
Demons Are Forever
Rebel Yell (Billy Idol cover)
Death of the Party
Pretty Little Nightmare
Left for Dead

Jet Black Eyes
Cold Day in Hell

7 Weeks
Reverie Shores
Her Mask (p.a.)
Cracking the Whip
Crushed Like Fruit
Faster The Chase


More Videos from the gig can be found on our Youtube Channel here.


Words By David Chinery (Chinners)
Photography By Lynn Bert (Lynn Frances Photography)
Additional Media by Becky Crowthall-Brown (BC Events Photography and Media)

South Of Salem