Words: Chloe Ross / Pictures: Ruubez Media
It’s almost surreal to step into the attic-like venue that is The Parish on Friday 22nd October. Live music is finally back in full swing after over a year of silenced stages just like this one, and what better way to embrace this fact by welcoming a band who were literally born out of lockdown, Manchester’s Salem.
A beautifully haunting playthrough of Beethoven‘s Moonlight Sonata through the venue speakers welcomes the band to the stage, perfectly in keeping with the band’s spooky imagery and conceptual identity. The immediately apparent word that springs to mind for this set is ‘energy’; frontman Will Ghould (Creeper) throws himself around the surprisingly large stage like a jackrabbit, barely in the same spot for more than a second.
Single DRACULADS garners noticeable glee from the crowd. For a band that has only been around for a year with two relatively short EPs to their name (Salem and Salem II respectively, with thanks to Danzig‘s inspiration as remarked by Ghould on the night), loyal fans hang onto every word as if they’ve been touring for decades.
This adoration of fans lasts throughout the entire set, with the band blasting out favourites Heaven Help Me, Sweet Tooth, and William, It Was Really Something with no sign of first tour nerves to be felt for even an iota of time. A particular highlight of the set is the brandishing of a garish (in the best way) Halloween-esque skeleton chalice by Ghould which was purchased for him by a fan on a previous tour date.
Their cover of New Rose by The Damned goes down absolutely swimmingly, almost sounding as if Salem wrote the damn thing themselves it suits them so perfectly. The set seems so bittersweetly short as they leave the stage, but of course, they return abruptly to smash out standout single Destroy Me which prompts the biggest singalong of the night.
For a debut tour for one of the most exciting hardcore punk bands to catch my attention in a long time, Salem have made this intimate run of shows something really special, something we’ll hopefully all look back on in years to come and say those fateful words, ‘I was there’.