BAD TOUCH / AARON BUCHANAN AND THE CULT CLASSICS / DAXX & ROXANE - Manchester Academy 3 31.10.18
PHOTO CREDITS: SHANNON LANDERS PHOTOGRAPHY
I’ve been to gigs on Halloween before – most memorably to see Alice Cooper and The Almighty, two of my all-time favourite artists/bands. This year, Norfolk rockers Bad Touch announced that they’d be playing at one of my local venues on Halloween as part of their ‘Shake A Leg’ tour, and having recently interviewed singer Stevie Westwood (who was giving nothing away on the spooky front), I wondered what scary surprises they’d have in store for us and whether they could live up to my past Halloween gig successes.
The first part of the evening was somewhat of a horror with my journey to Manchester’s Academy 3 being fraught with danger. Trick or Treaters were running amok through the dark, wet streets, teenagers were throwing fireworks recklessly towards cars and I arrived with nowhere to park, given that Shinedown were also playing next door at The Academy. After driving round in circles for what seemed like an eternity I eventually arrived, flustered, but with my not-so-spooky cat ears in tact (well you’ve got to make an effort and I’d heard there were prizes to be won). Regrettably I missed the first band, DAXX & ROXANE, all except for their last song, which sounded right up my street. Damn it!
Originally from Montreux, Switzerland, the now London-based rock ‘n’ roll quartet seemed to have the crowd enthralled. Apparently one band member (Cal Wymann) had just leaped over another (Simon Golaz) who was lying on the floor at the time. They played songs from their album Ticket To Rock, opening with the record’s riffy title track. Their music has an ‘80’s sleaze/glam vibe, although they cite old-school hard rock heavyweights Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and AC/DC as key influences and I was amused to learn that they’d played the theme tune of Ghost Busters during their set.
What I did see of their performance however made me want to turn the clocks back all over again (and not for the extra hour’s sleep this time). The band, comprising Simon Golaz on rhythm guitar, Cédric Pfister on vocals and bass, Cal Wymann on lead guitar and Luca Senaldi on drums, has previously been described as “tooth-and-nail, testosterone-powered rock” and I’d say that’s pretty spot-on. Fun, high voltage, adrenaline-fueled intensity and raw, filthy riffs make this kickass outfit thrilling to watch and to be honest, that brief glimpse was all I needed to be convinced that this is a band I’d like to see, and hear, a lot more of.
Daxx & Roxane are :-
Simon Golaz - Rhythm Guitar
Cédric Pfister - Vocals / Bass
Cal Wymann - Lead Guitar
Luca Senaldi - Drums
When AARON BUCHANAN AND THE CULT CLASSICS came out, the fist thing I noticed was that all the band members were dressed in black and white, except for Aaron’s sister Laurie Buchanan, who stood out in a bright red blazer and black hat. Apart from the uniform colour scheme, however, the bandmates all had very individual, striking looks. Aaron, who used to be in Heaven’s Basement, gave a dynamic, confident performance in jeans that were so tight that every time he lunged forward to place one foot on the barrier, I feared for the sanctity of his seams! Luckily there were no jeans-related malfunctions and the band’s delivery was as tight as the eye-wateringly snug trousers.
The set consisted of songs from the band’s debut album, The Man With Stars on His Knees, and included a medley of well-known covers starting with ‘Paranoid’ and ‘My Sharona’. During one of the songs Aaron popped open a beer bottle, which made an amusingly potent sound effect. Heavily inked, hirsute drummer Paul White looked like a cross between Animal, a pirate and an octopus, with tentacle-like arms freely flying around his drumkit. He was mesmerising to watch and even managed to break a drumstick right down the middle, which he quickly discarded and replaced.
Aaron, who described Manchester as “The best rock ‘n’ roll city in the UK”, asked everybody to come forwards towards the stage. I thought he was preparing to crowd-surf, but he went one better and did a full handstand on top of people’s heads! He had the swagger and moves of Freddie Mercury nailed and pulled out all the stops to give a sweaty, high-impact performance. For the final song, ‘Morals’, snazzily-dressed guitarist Tom McCarthy, who’d been relatively reserved for most of the set, swapped places with animated bassist Mart Trail to take centre stage and executed an effortless solo with his guitar behind his head.
Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics are :-
Aaron Buchanan - Vocals
Laurie Buchanan - Guitar
Tom McCarthy - Guitar
Mart Trail - Bass
Paul White - Drums
I saw BAD TOUCH earlier in the year when they supported Skid Row and loved their rich, bluesy sound and full-bodied energy, so coming to see them again a few months later was a no-brainer. Their set opened with the groove-laden rocker ‘Show Me What It Means’ from their new album ‘Shake A Leg’ and self-assured frontman Stevie Westwood gave a majestic vocal performance with the roar, presence (and mane!) of a lion. The tambourine came out for the next song, ‘Lift Your Head Up’, as Stevie proclaimed, “Beautiful people of Manchester, I want to feel you right now – I want to hear you right now!”
The high-octane set also included tracks from both the band’s previous albums, Half Way Home and Truth Be Told, and there was a lively cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ which everybody joined in. Then Stevie asked “Are you ready to get heavy?” as another of the hard-hitting new tracks, ‘Hammer Falls’, began. Bad Touch were even bigger and badder than the last time I saw them, and songs that sound great on the latest album, sounded incredible live. Another highlight was the stripped back ‘Take Your Time’, as the emotion in the song and in Stevie’s soulful vocals really came through, giving him an air of maturity well beyond his tender years.
Energy levels were amped all the way up with ‘My Mother Told Me’ and infectious single ‘Skyman’ and we all enthusiastically sang the “whoa-oh-oh-ohs” of ‘Outlaw’, which carried the scintillating set towards its conclusion. “We’re five Norfolk boys and you’re making our hearts cry,” said a humble, visibly grateful Stevie, as he thanked us all for coming (and for not going to see Shinedown instead). For dessert the crowd got exactly what they ordered, the phenomenal ‘99%’, which was rapturously received.
The whole band gave it more than 99% and looked like they could quite possibly conquer the world together. Do buy the cracking new album, but Bad Touch bring so much more to their shows, that seeing them live is imperative. You could say that they gave a performance capable of raising the dead! And steering the theme back to Halloween, Stevie, who was wearing a loud paisley shirt, joked, “I was going to dress up but I realised that my shirt was quite scary already!” In the end, the prize for the best costume went to what looked like a blood-soaked Axl Rose. I guess he’d been Slashed...
Bad Touch are :-
Stevie Westwood - Vocals
Rob Glendinning - Guitar
Daniel 'Seeks' Seekings - Guitar
Michael Bailey - Bass
George Drewry - Drummer
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