Live Review: Bad Touch – Livewire, Saltash

Breaking the habit of a lifetime of reviews, check out their website, and feel free to send them some hard-earned cash! Added to the bill after the change of promoter, the evening kicked off with Newton Abbot based youngsters, Ethyrfield. It isn’t often that you have the pleasure of seeing the future, but here it was writ large. Still in their teens, yet having been together for four years, the three piece have already played at Bloodstock, and have won multiple awards for their superbly crafted grunge influenced metal, all of which is self-penned and absurdly mature. We were in the venue for the sound check and when diminutive drummer Dan Aston was asked by the sound desk to get some mic levels for the full kit, our jaws hit the floor at what the youngest member of the trio jammed. Coupled with guitar from Ben Cornish (finalist in Sky Arts “Guitar Star”) and Bass/Vocals from Zach Cornish they played a scorcher of a set that left the bands following them singing their praises. Take yourself off to Spotify and listen to “Show Me God”, or even better “Bag Of Bones”, and remember their name – Ethyrfield. Next up- Party time! I can’t remember the last time I saw a band enjoy life quite as much as Swiss crazies Daxx and Roxane. Never still for a second, they upped the tempo and energy levels, and almost instantly won over the crowd. Opening with “Ticket To Rock”, this is sleazy, assured, let’s have a fucking good time music. Looking back at my gig companions and the smiles on their faces, I wasn’t the only one snatched up and taken along for the ride. We didn’t get the bottle of whisky passed around the front row that I had been warned to prepare myself for (no licence remember), but what we did get were acrobatic leaps, killer riffs and gravelly vocals. Was it groundbreakingly innovative? Not at all! Was it fun, exciting, sing-along, have-a-dance-and-forget-life’s-stresses-and-problems music? Damn right! “Wild Child” somehow makes a ZZ Top “Tush” style intro sound as the Texans would have done if they had lived in LA, before Cedric Pfister takes the sound further up Sunset Strip and then segues into Queen’s “One Vision” which ramped up the party even further. Closing out with “Wrong Side”, and an impossibly high jump by guitarist Cal Wymann over Simon Golaz, they left a lasting impression. Next up on this ridiculously good value for money ticket, Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics take their places and explode into “Left Me For Dead”. Now, I have seen Aaron and Co play more times than many bands, but I have never seen him attack a set with the almost angry energy that he did tonight, and the band were immense! Earlier this year, I was at Steelhouse when their set was cut short by a near biblical storm. In that shortened set, I sensed an increase in intensity compared to previous encounters, but this was another level entirely. Their time on stage is a masterclass of how to build a setlist. We get some of the Heaven’s Basement catalogue with “Fire Fire”, “I Am Electric” and “Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch”, but the new material from “The Man With Stars On His Knees” shows how different the Cult Classics are to that previous vehicle. Is it “New Wave Of Classic Rock” or whatever the banner is? Not for me. Sure there are echoes of the past, music is always an evolution rather than a revolution, but there is a freshness and far wider blend of influences than a sound rooted in history, in much the same way that Queen were constantly evolving and experimenting. Every member of the Cult Classics brings something unique and fresh. Aaron himself is one of the most complete frontmen you will see. His voice is powerful and wide ranging, his stage presence immense, and his trademark journey into the crowd (a handstand tonight rather than simple crowd surfing), acrobatic. To his left, sister Laurie seems to grow in stature every time I see her on stage, combining “blood” red jacket and trademark hat with crushing guitar work. Drummer Paul White; the tattoos and flying hair alongside powerful drumming. Bassist Mart Trail with the mohawk, and guitarist Tom McCarthy in an outlandishly smart and stylish waistcoat, both always active and working the crowd. Highlights? The second half of the set which encompassed “I am Electric”, “Dancin Down Below”, “Heartbreaking Son Of A Bitch” and set closer “Morals”. Put those four songs on a Spotify playlist and treat yourself. Finally onto the reason we are all here. Norfolk’s finest, Bad Touch. Now here is a band that do define the “New wave Of Classic Rock” and glory in it, but do so in a way that is a sound of today rather than of a bygone era. I pretty much guarantee that if you were to show a selection of random people a photo of Stevie Westwood and ask them what he did for a living 100% would say “rock star”. He is so much more than image though, as his voice is developing a maturity and depth that constant work is honing. Simply by standing at a microphone he exudes his presence. Bad Touch are about far more than simply Stevie though. They possess a swagger and confidence that new album “Shake A Leg” showcases wonderfully. Opening the set with a song that many won’t have heard is a gamble, but Bad Touch have so much pride in the new material that the set opens with three! “Show Me What It Means”, “Lift Your Head Up” and “Movin On Up” are played uninterupted before we are into more familiar territory with “Good On Me” and “Sharp Dressed Man”; a cover that works far too well. Three more off the new album continue to demonstrate just how classy a piece of work it is. “Hammer Falls” is catchy little ear worm. “Tussle” is followed by the very down and dirty twin guitars of “Take Me Away”, with Rob Glendinning and Daniel Seekings providing a huge lead line. Nothing demonstrates just what a soulful voice Stevie has better than the slow and heartfelt “Take Your Time”, which has a depth live that I don’t really get from the recorded version. Nothing can keep the pace down though, and we are quickly into the head bobber, “My Mother Told Me”, and on into “Skyman”, which somehow became Whitesnake’s “Still Of The Night”. “Believe In Me” takes the pace back down a little, showcasing some rather lovely guitar soloing, again showing just how good the new album is. “Outlaw” and “Down” close out the set proper, and Bad Touch leave the stage to a well deserved ovation and plenty of encouragement to return and give us more. Of course, they have more up their sleeves, and come back to give us what to me is the best song on “Shake A Leg”, “”Dressed To Kill”. How else could they end the set than to play “99%”? Turning around we saw the members of Daxx and Roxane partying and having a great time, showing the mutual respect all four bands had for each other, and rightfully so. On the way home, we played the usual game of “band of the day” The quality of the line up couldn’t be better illustrated than to say that each of the three of us found it hard to choose, but when forced, chose different bands! Review and Photos: Rob and Danielle Wilkins [gallery type='flickr' user_id='132278830@N06' view='photos' photoset_id='72157702282933851' media='photos' columns='3' tag_mode='any' sort='date-posted-desc' per_page='95' layout='square' caption='title' thumb_size='s' main_size='z' ]]]>

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