Gig Review: The Treatment / Piston / South of Salem – The Fleece, Bristol (18th April 2022)

South of Salem (c) Paul Hutchings

The first thing a friend said to me when I told them I was going to see The Treatment was “Wow! Are they still going?” I’m not sure whether that meant I’m getting old or not as I still view the Cambridgeshire outfit as a relatively new band on the classic rock scene. Regardless of age, this was an evening of high-octane rock and roll with three bands firing on all cylinders and clearly eager to make up for lost time. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the Fleece; steeped in history and having successfully fought off the challenge of local property developers, it is a vibrant and welcoming venue, ideal for all types of music but certainly fitting the bill for a sweaty night of loud guitars.

I’ve heard the name South of Salem making quite a noise in the scene over the past few years. The Bournemouth five-piece certainly don’t lack confidence or ambition as they thrilled the crowd with 30 minutes of swagger and sleazy hard rock. The band were featured here as Band of the Day back in 2020, and they were very close to being band of the night. Pumping out songs from debut album The Sinner Takes it All, South of Salem’s energy and high-powered performance soon got the crowd moving.

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There were some die-hard fans of the band present, noticeable in their band shirts and knowledge of lyrics, and they brought a vibrancy to the atmosphere. Led by the charismatic Joey on vocals the band’s blend of horror inspired 80s hard rock is full of hooks and memorable riffs. Passion, power, and an overwhelming desire to entertain, South of Salem are an impressive outfit.

Piston (c) Paul Hutchings

Following such a strong opening act was no easy task. Luckily, if you want a band who can match the confidence of South of Salem, then Piston are your boys. It’s been a while since I last saw the Staffordshire band, and they are yet another band who have used their time over the past two years to hone their style. Another fine frontman in Rob Angelico, who also wins points for best hat of the evening, Piston’s crunching riffs and generally pleasing approach to no-nonsense boogie got the venue moving just a little more. This is a band who live to be on the road, and it shows in a crafted and professional set that had just enough chaos to avoid being over-polished.

After such electric supports, The Treatment needed to be on form to prevent being overshadowed. If you’ve seen this outfit before, you’ll know that high energy performance is key to all that they do, and any fears of them being overshadowed were quickly dispelled. The Treatment know exactly how to pick a setlist, and their AC/DC-style stomp quickly focused the attention. Heads were nodding, feet tapping and, dare I say it, there was even a bit of impromptu dancing. Founding members Tagore Grey and Dhani Mansworth have seen a few members come and go since those early days of 2008, with bassist Andy Milburn the latest addition to the line-up in 2020. Singer Tom Rampton is now five years in, and his fine vocals are drenched in The Treatment style.

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With a five-album discography, choosing a setlist is always hard, but unsurprisingly the band pulled a few from the 2021 album Waiting For Good Luck as well as dipping way back to the debut This is Gonna Hurt for a couple of oldies. It all added up to a stellar performance from a band whose road warrior status is well earned. They are slick, professional and good fun as well. Rampton’s brief expression of relief at the return of live music was heartfelt. So many bands live for the live experience.

A triumph for live rock music then, and as evenings go, you can’t get much better. All three bands bristle with the excitement of the UK classic rock scene – and all three are deserving of the highest accolades. Catch them if you can. They deserve it.

All pics by Paul Hutchings

The Treatment: facebook | twitter | instagram | spotify

Piston: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube

South of Salem: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube | bigcartel

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