Thankfully, Stoke’s Eleven club has weathered the Covid storm and is now celebrating its 6th anniversary. Tucked away on the outskirts of Tunstall, the club has gone from strength to strength attracting some significant acts that continue to return. Club owner Paul Hume also plays guitar in Demon, so it makes perfect sense that they’re the band playing to mark the anniversary.
Opening slot goes to The Event who play an entertaining set full of modern hard edged, melodic rock songs. ‘Phony’ seems well structured and ‘Lay It Down’ has a funky riff that gets the head shaking. ‘Primadonnas and Drama Queens’ matches in heaviness and keeps the feet tapping and its at this point that I make a mental note to check them out online as they’re definitely worth exploring further. Unfortunate then, that they’ve chosen a band name that makes it a challenge to successfully search for them on google or social media.
Demon are back on home turf to conclude a short run of UK dates and European shows. A well chosen classical piece of music has always proven a good way to start a show and tonight the band take to the stage to Bach’s Toccata & Fuge which gives way to a tolling bell and the instrumental ‘Full Moon’ creating a suitable atmosphere before the lights fire up and opener ‘Wonderland’ takes over. One of their more commercial tracks sees the band in fine fettle and its a firm fan favourite that goes down well. ‘Sign Of The Madman’ follows powered along by Neil Ogden, who by reckoning, must be the second longest serving member of the band. It features a tasteful solo from Hume while Fasker seems to be enjoying himself immensely wielding his bass around the stage.
Dave Hill mentions that earlier in the year they were booked to perform The Plague in its entirety as part of a Prog Rock cruise. Something that they had never done before saw the line up having to learn rarely played songs. To our benefit, we get to hear fair proportion of it tonight with ‘The Only Sane Man’ making a very rare outing, along with the more standard offerings of ‘The Plague’ and ‘Blackheath’. For a band that either rightly or wrongly will forever be associated with NWOBHM, looking back it’s incredible to see how quickly they evolved and broadened their style with each release. Lyrically too, Demon were leagues ahead of many of their contemporaries which probably also helps explain how the songs still sound as fresh as they do today as they did 40 years ago. ‘The Plague’ remains chillingly accurate in its observations and sadly there’s always a new crisis somewhere in the world that underlines the relevance of ‘Nowhere To Run’.
By the time Demon came to record their 6th album, Breakout, only Dave Hill and drummer John Wright remained from the original line up but new writing partnerships ensured the quality remained and that’s ably demonstrated with ‘Life On The Wire’. One of their most enduring songs, it’s an absolute belter that has Karl Waye’s keys to the fore and features a spellbinding solo from Dave Cotterill. Incidentally, John Wright was also in the audience tonight, and adding to the celebrations, Dave’s daughter and grand-daughter were also brought up on stage briefly with Dave proudly announcing that this was his grand-daughters’ first gig, “she knows all the words” he tells us and Paul Hume is quick to respond that at least one of the Hill family does.
Hearing Tommy Vance playing ‘Don’t Break The Circle’ on the Friday Night Rock Show served as my introduction to Demon, as I’m sure it did for many, and no matter how many times I hear it, it’s just as thrilling. Unsurprisingly it receives one of the best receptions of the night and encore of ‘Night Of The Demon’ rounds off a most enjoyable evening. May both band and venue continue to have many fruitful years ahead of them.
Sign Of The Madman
Nowhere To Run
Standing On The Edge
The Only Sane Man
Life On The Wire
Don’t Break The Circle
Night Of The Demon