Dakesis Album Launch @ The Roadhouse, Birmingham – Weds 2nd November 2011

“Trial By Fire” has finally arrived! To say the journey has been long and arduous is a bit like saying that Wayne quite likes guitars; enough of the history, time to celebrate the here and now!

To coin a cliché 'it's a dirty job but someone's got to do it' and Valous had a thankless task on their hands as the opening act. Seeing JD (ex-Overproof amongst many others) playing guitar rather than beating the living daylights out of a kit took a while getting used to, but he seemed comfortable enough as an axeman. What can I tell you about Valous then? Well, they're a five piece, play classic rock from the Beholder or Hostile UK school... and probably won't want to remember this gig. Not that there was anything inherently wrong, but there seemed to be a lack of passion and conviction to their performance.

The dual guitar harmonies worked well enough, and they were tight enough as a band, yet it was all just underwhelming. Didn't help that they finished with a truly shocking cover of Free's “Wishing Well” that really shouldn't see the light of day again. As it's the first time I've seen them I'll give them the benefit of the doubt – stands a fair chance that our paths will cross again soon....

Dakesis, clearly, not only know how to put on a good show but also how to stage a fine album launch party. Complete with buffet resplendent with castle cake, and balloons festooned above the stage to be unfettered at some point throughout the evening, it was clear that the band were here to enjoy themselves. And they, and the devoted crowd, most certainly did...

Launching your début album there's really only one setlist – the album in full – and that's what we were treated to. Being a Dakesis gig there were bound to be technical glitches, yet I hadn't expected Wayne to miss his opening cue! Still he bluffed it off well enough, and the title track started the evening off in fine fashion. From there on in it was business as usual with the band, as ever, putting on an entertaining display. There are many bands on the circuit that would kill for Dakesis's stage presence and humour. They may be cheesier than a marathon runner's sock, but when you're grinning so contentedly throughout who cares?

The gremlins struck once more during “On Wings Of Steel” where Wayne's guitar cut out. Matt soldiered on and held the fort from a guitar perspective, whilst the rest of the band carried on regardless. Suppose that's one good thing about having few faultless gigs – at least the 'show must go on' mentality is almost second nature!

Halfway through the set “Broken” was as good as I've heard it played. The centrepiece of their gigs was stunning, Gemma's vocals outstanding, not forgetting the guitar solo in amongst the crowd. “Valhalla” included the familiar opening singalong section which was raucously upheld by the partisan supporters. A couple of songs later and the album had been played in entirety. Time for Gemma, initially (and comprehensively), to thank a plethora of people, before each of the band – with varying degrees of shyness/eloquence – added their personal thanks.

Encore? Naturally. “440” first up, before Bonnie Tyler's “I Need A Hero” defeated Iron Maiden's “The Trooper” down to audience response, to complete a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Fingers crossed that the forthcoming tour will add more loyal fans to their existing base; replicate shows like this and that should be a foregone conclusion....



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