The old saying that it takes years to become an overnight sensation was never truer in the case of Norfolk band Bad Touch. I’ve seen them play numerous support slots over the years but was unaware until singer Stevie Westwood mentioned it from the stage that the band have been toiling away for eight years.
However their hard work is finally paying off with most recent album ‘Truth Be Told’ a quantum leap forward and now their first ever headlining tour. This culminated with an impressive turnout at the Academy, much larger than I was expecting on a Sunday night as I struggled through the entrance before pushing through to find more space nearer the front.
This was an excellent double bill (three if you include opening act The Strangers) with Mollie Marriott providing support. The daughter of the legendary Steve has good looks and an easy charm, but after witnessing an excellent gig of hers earlier in the year I did wonder whether her vintage blues and soul influences would be the best mutual musical fit on this bill.
However, whether by accident or design, her line up this time was significantly rockier, with the rhythm section from one time hopefuls The Crave and not even a keyboard player, though I could still hear taped sounds during opener ‘Run With The Hounds’.
On the title track of her latest release Truth Is A Wolf curly-haired guitarist Johnson Jay seemed to be relishing the new, more guitar heavy sound with a long, winding solo. Slightly oddly, given that the new album has not long been released, Mollie even played a couple of new songs in ‘Nobody To Love’ and ‘Into Shape’, both also in a rockier mould.
She paid tribute to Tom Petty but in a remarkable coincidence with exactly the same, and not obvious, song in ‘I Should Have Known It’ that I’d seen Federal Charm play only 24 hours before. An all too short set ended on a high with probably my favourite from the new album in ‘Transformer’ with some great hooks and vocal melodies and perhaps the best known song of her fledgling career in ‘Control’ with the band really letting rip.
There was a real sense of occasion as Bad Touch took the stage, this being the final gig and London showcase of their tour, and you could see the pride seeping from the band. They opened in fine style with ‘Take Me Away’ then dropped in a relative oldie I remember from their earlier days in ‘Good On You’, with its tongue in cheek lyrics and a riff inspired by the Black Crowes’ ‘Jealous Again’.
The band are notably tighter and present a more confident stage presence than in those earlier more amateur days when they were one of many young hopefuls, while singer Stevie Westwood is a natural frontman helped by a voice that projects well, a gently humorous manner and the best moustache this side of a World War II Wing Commanders reunion.
The likes of ‘Sweet Little Secret’ and ‘Heartbreaker Soulshaker’ – bearing some similarities to Glenn Hughes’ ‘Soul Mover’- were muscular blues rockers while ‘Wise Water’ showed off the slide guitar playing talents of Rob Glendinning, back in the fold after a brief absence earlier this year. Mention must also be made of how his co-guitarist Daniel Seekings and drummer George Drewry filled out the sound with backing vocals.
They previewed a new song from an album due next year and ‘I Belong’, which built to a crescendo from slow beginnings was a positive indication their songwriting has taken a further step forward while oldie ‘Down’ featured within it the old Marshall Tucker classic ‘Can’t You See’.
‘My Mother Told Me’ may have gone on a tad too long, but ‘Take Your Time’ was outstanding with a raw, pared back country rock feel, with Stevie’s heartfelt vocals and Rob coaxing a great tone from his Gibson Les Paul. From then on in it was uptempo, bluesy rockers al the way –‘Outlaw’ had me and a few other punching the air and ‘Mountain’ had an impressive sense of dynamics.
They let their hair down even more with a good time encore, Mollie Marriott returning to duet on a cover of Ike and Tina Turner’s ‘Baby Get It On’ which suited all parties to the manner born, before finishing a set of an impressive 80 minute length with the Stonesy raunch and humorous lyrics of ‘99%’.
Bad Touch may be proof of the AC/DC-ian adage that it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll, but the way they are flourishing made this night a real feel good story.
Review by Andy Nathan
Photos by Laurence Harvey (copyright Laurence Harvey)
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