Review by Monty Sewell for MPM
The roaring riptides of rock ’n’ roll cast a favourable light upon Londons O2 Academy Islington as Bad Touch took to the stage on the second to last date of their ‘Better Late Than Never’ tour.
Unashamedly on the nose in name, the three-time rescheduled fifteen date stretch sees the guys clench their headline claim between dusted off knuckles with both precision and flair.
Promising local band Dead Writers take to the stands before long-running support act Piston give a sterling performance. Cracked beers onstage, they inhibit all that is rock and clearly revel in the enthused audience Bad Touch guarantee.
From supporting Glenn Hughs on his ‘Performs Classic Deep Purple Live’ tour to a six page feature in Total Guitar Magazine, Piston seem to be hot on the rise. With mischief grinning out from under their shaggy haired intensity, these boys will be back on the road come April 2022.
Though for all Pistons rogue, street-rock excitement, the crowd anticipation begins to simmer as the clear champions of the evening announce their entrance only a few minutes over time (the bygone era of excusable rockstar lateness has thankfully disappeared altogether; we’re looking at you Axel).
After two years of waiting in the wings Bad Touch have finally arrived with frontman Stevie Westwood wasting no time in thanking the crowd for their patience.
Westwood is the poster boy of blues rock retro style as he grins through that 70s tache in a silk floral matching suit with an easygoing coolness one can only hope to inhibit. The rest of the lineup unquestionably stays the same: Rob Glendinning (Lead Guitar), Daniel ‘Seeks’ Seekings (Guitar/Vocals), Michael Bailey (Bass) and George Drewry (Drums/Vocals). Though the ‘clicking into action’ feels a bit nonchalant, as those first notes of ‘Lift Your Head Up’ ring out it feels so good to be once again cradled by the warm hands of classic blues rock.
If there’s one thing a Bad Touch show vows to do, it’s to look after its audience. ‘How we feelin’?!’ Westwood calls out with that infectious smile interrupted only by his soulful husk which wraps its way around each word composedly. ‘Good On Me’ (2015) and ‘Strut’ (2020) act as bookends of the bands career so far with the latter causing a ripple of grooving around me. It’s flawless live musicianship that never strays more than an inch away from the recorded versions of each number.
Four songs in and the tambourine comes out as the guys start to feel their music a bit more. Michael Bailey in particular strides up and down the stage wide shouldered and chin high, wielding his bass like a rhythm sunk weapon. ‘Dressed To Kill’ comes to a rumbling ending which dives straight into ‘Let Go’ without any drop in energy. ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing’ gives drummer George Drewry his space to chomp down on those nifty fills from the back of the stage. Drewry shines in both percussion and as backing vocals, his tenor notes lining the bands cover of Alanis Morrisette’s ‘Hand In My Pocket’ finely.
Bad Touch are unequivocally proud of their Norfolk heritage and though at first sight they’re more Lynyrd Skynyrd than cul-de-sac Essex, Westwood throws out a ‘cheers!’ at every available interlude responded to by a sea of raised pint glasses.
Steering clear of any cliche moments, the guys whack out their version of Motown legend Edwin Starr’s ‘Twenty Five Miles’. It’s heavy enough to please the leather clad fans whilst flicking that universal switch of instant recognition. Bad Touch have always made interesting cover choices for their live shows with previously stated ‘Hand In My Pocket’ certainly topping the bill as the unexpected bit of gold later on in the set.
‘Waste My Time’, fan favourite ‘Skyman’ and ‘I Get High’ is the rousing triple thread that pushes the show up a few notches. A ping pong ‘Woah!’ with their audience doesn’t need much encouragement as they joyfully sing back at Westwood. After two weeks of touring they still manage to pull a grand visual show out of the bag as Daniel ‘Seeks’ Seekings tosses his Gibson Les Paul up into the air with each strum.
Lead guitarist Rob Glendinning sternly takes the spotlight for a simple beat backed solo that lays down his technique as a centre piece of the bands compositions. For just under three minutes Glendinning stands, eyes closed as he plucks and picks the strings on his Fender, breaking composure only to beckon the audience to ‘come on!’. He’s a fascinating guitarist to watch; always quietly lost in the songs but never missing a note throughout the solo soaked set. It’s a yin-yang pairing with Seekings who continues to throw himself into each riff-tastic downstroke.
This slides on into the emotionally steered ‘Can You Save Me’ before turning the tempo back up with ‘Come A Little Closer’. Though the set is of course heavy with material from their recent 2020 ‘Kiss The Sky’ album, it’s their final number ‘Outlaw’ that rouses the crowd to the realisation that their Thursday night of rock ’n’ roll may soon be coming to an end.
‘If you make enough noise, we may come back!’ Westwood teases as they depart from the stage.
And boy they do. The audience cheer and whistle for the band to return for an encore with a ruckus that rivals the groups smash endings.
Both Glendinning and Bailey return to stage with their heads fully immersed in soft elf masks whilst the rest don Santa hats. What could come off as ridiculous is saved by their pristine playing of ‘A Gift For You’, their festive Christmas song which does indeed come as much welcomed break from a certain Mariah.
The guys close the show with the jaw breakingly catchy ’99%’ which first saw Bad Touch reach national acclaim five years ago. It’s a fitting end to a sincere performance that was bang on the money in both style and dexterity.
From the looks of it there aren’t any other shows planned for the immediate future but after watching them do what they do best I can honestly say the lads can’t wait to get back out on the road.
Photography by Jon Theobald for MPM