It is the third time in just a little over a year that I’ve seen South Of Salem grace the stage at KK’S. Each time they’ve opened and each time they’ve got just a little better.

Actually, that’s not strictly true. Tonight they were on another level to what I’d seen from them before – and it’s like they know it too.

Their second album,  “Death Of The Party” which emerged earlier in the year sort of hinted at it,  but watching them play songs like “Vultures” in a live setting is the only way to feel it. Sons of Salem will be headliners here before long.

Even stuff from their debut sounds reinvigorated, “Let Us Prey” for example, and by the time they’ve done the H.I.M-ish “Hellbound Heart” and “Left For Dead”, singer Joey Draper is in command of the crowd – a fact he continues in “Cold Day In Hell”.

Guitarist Kodi Kasper gets in on the act, giving it his best sleaze solo on “Jet Black Heart” you know you’ve witnessed a band who has everything.

As The Kris Barras Band end their set here, with “My Parade” there’s a moment where he, plus bassist Frazer Kerslake and guitarist Josiah J Manning are together, synchronised and rocking out. It just about could be Harris, Murray and Smith from about 1986.

And at this point, you are reminded of the chorus to that song: “Fall into line or get out of my way, I don’t give a fuck what people say”…..

That’s KBB 2024. In fairness, it’s been Kris Barras since the start, but it just seems more important to say than ever given that this show comes a day after they released a full-on modern metal album. The evolution that began with “Divine And Dirty” is complete.

It all starts with “Who Needs Enemies” and if you could have mixed it up with Stone Broken before, you’d best believe you could now, and that’s sort of in keeping with the vibe, as “Unbreakable” the first of the new songs from “The Halo Effect” sets out.

He’s a fine guitar player, always was and he proves it on “Dead Horses”. It’s just that now Barras is fine with ditching the guitar altogether to front a rock band. He does it on a superb “Savages” but that’s not the only time.

Just after the middle of the 90-minute show, comes its centrepiece. When I first saw Kris Barras, he was playing bluesy rock and Josiah J Manning was his keyboard player, he reprises that on a sensational “Wake Me When It’s Over” and an even better “Someone To Watch Over Me” written about Barras’ late father (and indeed the first song he wrote when forming the band) but played here with phone torches shining brightly.

There’s a jam, and they can all play, but this is a band that is all about its songs. Songs like “Ignite (Light It Up)” and of course the magnificent “Hail Mary” which ends the evening.

Those two are from the past, of course, but mostly this is a band that is all about the future. The album is brave, but it’s excellent, and so is the set. Playing as many new songs that most people may not know is a risk, but it is noticeable just how well the likes of “Hourglass” and “Secrets” have fitted in.

A rock and metal artist, no longer a blues one, Kris Barras is playing a metal venue and not looking out of place. He’s worked hard, he’s paid his dues and they’ve paid off. He’s never looked happier, and if this was his parade, then it was a victory one.

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