Mollie Marriott + Bad Touch
Sunday 26th November
O2 Academy Islington, London
I was slightly dazed & confused and almost certain that I must have entered the wrong venue, as upon entering the Islington Academy I was greeted by the sound of a Rapper rapping incessantly on the stage! The door man convinced me that this was the correct venue to see Bad Touch and Mollie Marriott! Well that was a relief as I was a bit tired and frazzled having just spent the last five hours at the annual Kinks Fan Club gathering at The Boston Arms in Tufnell Park, where ex-members of The Kinks come together for a massive celebration of Kink's music. As an added bonus we got a special appearance by none other than Ray Davies himself, but that's another story!
So what’s with this Rapper dude!? Turns out they were the support to the support! I believe they are called The Strangers, a north London Rock/Rap Fusion band. Usually I hate any type of Rap music, but funnily enough I didn't totally hate what these guys were doing. The songs were quite strong, the band were reasonably tight and the Rapper dude had a cheeky cockney geezer charm about him.
The main reason for attending this gig was to witness, once again, the phenomenal Mollie Marriott live. This being her first big tour upon the release of her sensational debut album 'Truth Is A Wolf', released on 3rd November 2017. For an in-depth and detailed appraisal of the album check out my CD review published on the Wrinkly Rockers Club website in August 2017.
For this tour Mollie is joined by a power house three piece band consisting of CJ Evans on drums, Tom Swann on bass and Johnson Jay on guitar. No backing singers or visible keyboards on stage, although it does sound like there is someone playing some keys at the side of the stage, or it could be a tape? This was very much a full on Heavy Rock romp through nine songs, with the set coming in at around thirty minutes or so. Mollie's enigmatic stage presence is captivating, alluring, sensual and sassy with a priceless voice like liquid gold to match. Dressed in striking skin tight leopard print PVC/leather trousers (I’m sure Rod Stewart would approve!) and black tasseled leather jacket, Mollie has the audience in rapture from the off, commanding the stage with her magnetic personality and seductive enchanting elegance. Our attention is grabbed and gripped as the first notes ring out. Mollie's powerfully honed Blues/Soul Rock voice sends the shivers and we are hooked!
There appeared to be a sizable gaggle of professional looking photographers down the front capturing Mollie's every move through the whole of her set. I prefer to enjoy the show, be in the moment and concentrate on the music, rather than worry about getting a good photo shot. The tantalizing 'Run With The Hounds', taken from Mollie's debut album, opens the set and is executed with sublime precision and enthusiasm. This song has a delightful and satisfying melodic groove, a great set opener. Next up was the title track of the new album, the beguiling and classy 'Truth Is A Wolf', an irresistible groove with spellbinding vocals. 'Nobody To Love' is a new song which is not on the debut album and is a first for me. A riveting and rousing heavy Funk Soul track with exhilarating vocals. Fourth song in was the emotionally charged 'Broken', one of my favourites from the debut album. Tonight it was played much heavier and with more gusto than I have heard it played before. Mollie's vocals escalated the intensity to another level, a highly intoxicating and enthralling song. After 'Broken' came another new song, which I can't remember the title of, possibly 'Shame'? A mid-tempo, catchy and potent track. The mesmerizing 'King Of Hearts' was thrilling and invigorating, an astounding heavy bass line fixed the groove with slamming and slicing guitar adding weight to the riff.
Mollie then asked the audience 'Does anyone like Tom Petty?' The answer is, of course, a resounding yes! The question was, which song was she going to do? Surprisingly, it was a lesser known song from Tom Petty's 2010 album 'Mojo' called 'I Should Have Known It'. Played with enthusiastic verve and delivered with pure sass and grit. A special mention must go to Johnson Jay’s awesome energetic guitar solo. Nice one Mollie and band! The epic and dynamic 'Transformer' motors in next, another of my favourites from the debut album. This is an atmospheric and deep song with a rousing anthemic chorus that lifts and entices raw emotion, a scintillating and powerful vocal performance from Mollie with fiery and spirited guitar playing from Johnson Jay. The last song of the set was the mind-blowing and arresting 'Control', the first single released from the album and first track on the album. A gutsy rousing performance from the band with punchy soaring vocals from Mollie. Full on impassioned heavy Funk Rock at its best. Overall an incredible and stunning set from Mollie and her band.
To be honest I didn't know much about Bad Touch prior to this gig and had only heard a couple of tracks previously. The Norwich five piece band consists of Stevie Westwood – Vocals, Rob Glendinning – Lead Guitar, Daniel ‘Seeks’ Seekings – Guitar / Vocals, Michael Bailey – Bass and George Drewry – Drums / Vocals. Formed in 2010 when the band members were still in college, they recorded their first EP in 2012 and in 2015 they recorded their debut album ‘Half Way Home’. In July 2016, the band recorded their second album ‘Truth Be Told’. Since forming the band have supported many big names including The Answer, Snakecharmer, Jared James Nichols, Broken Witt Rebels, Kentucky Headhunters, as well as appearing at high profile festivals including this year’s Ramblin’ Man Fair. Their Southern Blues Rock sound has influences ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Black Crowes, Thunder and Free. This gig in Islington is part of their first headline tour.
The instant and obvious star of the show is the charismatic vocalist, Stevie Westwood, with his coiffured moustache, hippy flowery shirt and gravely Blues/Soul voice. He definitely stands out in a crowd, an individual with decadent Rock star swagger. Without a doubt the one in charge, commanding the stage with confidence, he rises to the challenge with aplomb. This is good time Rock 'n' Roll played with passion and conviction.
Their set included a balanced mixture of fast rockers and slower numbers, with six tracks from their last album, 'Truth Be Told', including ‘Heartbreaker, Soulshaker’, ‘My Mother Told Me’, ‘Take Your Time’, ‘Outlaw’, ‘The Mountain’ and ‘99%’. Three tracks from the debut album, 'Half Way Home', including ‘Good On Me’, ‘Wise Water’ and ‘Sweet Little Secret’, ‘Down’ from the 2013 EP, and a new song 'I Belong'. The encore included the frisky down and dirty Funk Soul duet with Mollie Marriott on their magnificent cover of Ike Turner's 'Baby Get It On', which was originally released in 1975 on Tina Turner's second solo album 'Acid Queen'. The set concluded with Bad Touch's most successful single so far '99%', a 100% rocker! Overall an enjoyable and entertaining gig. Definitely a band worthy of further investigation.
Steven C. Gilbert (photos courtesy of Laurence Harvey)