Bad Touch, (plus The Karma Effect and Electric Black) at the 02 Islington Academy on 7 April 2024

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Review by Tim Marcus with photos from Sam Conquest Photography

Tonight we’re back at one of AMG’s smaller o2 venues in London, the Academy2 in Islington, one of two music spaces on this site, situated directly above its larger sister venue. We’re here to see three, not dissimilar bands, from the New Wave of Classic Rock: Three not dissimilar bands however each very much with their own identity. The evening is due to conclude with a headline set from Norfolk rockers Bad Touch who are coming to the end of a country-wide tour supporting their latest album, “Bittersweet Satisfaction” with support this evening, as it has done for much of the tour, coming from London’s rising stars, The Karma Effect and Hertfordshire based Electric Black.

Opening proceedings this evening with a thirty-minute set are Electric Black. We first saw this four-piece around ten months ago when they kicked things off on the final day of last year’s Loverocks Festival in Dorset. On that occasion, I was immediately grabbed by the sound they produced. A four-piece they might be however with powerful driven riffs their sound at times reminds me of some of the great power trios of the late 60s and early 70s, beautifully intertwined with some wonderful melodic hooks.

With Ali Shach fronting the band on vocals and guitar, along with Jonny Bryant (lead guitar), Ryan Trotman (bass), and Matt Butler (drums), tonight’s short set consists of; “Put it down on Me”, “World ain’t so Heavy”, Come on Over”, “Down for a Good Time” (cue the audience participation spot!), “Taste of Paradise”, “Hellfire Revival”, and “Sick of Myself”. I was very much looking forward to seeing Electric Black again as soon as they were announced as one of the supports for tonight’s show and I’m pleased to say that I’ve not been left disappointed.

Next up is another band whom we were first introduced to at the Loverocks Festival (as it happens they played there two consecutive years) and more recently we’ve also seen them supporting These Wicked Rivers at this very venue we’re at tonight. Like Electric Black before them, when we first saw this London-based five-piece, their music just grabbed us by the throat!

They take to the stage within about 15 minutes of Electric Black vacating it and open up with “All Night Long” from their new, yet-to-be-released album, before breaking into the familiar, “Wrong Again”. The band, fronted by the charismatic Henry Gottlier, are exuding their usual confidence and stage presence, clearly enjoying themselves on home turf. The set we hear tonight is one we’ve become fairly familiar with over recent months, comprising a mix of songs from the band’s self-titled 2022 debut album and the upcoming new release,

“Promised Land” which is due to hit us in two or three weeks. In amongst the familiar though we hear a new song we’ve not heard live before before this tour, a recent single release, “Wild Honey”, along with last year’s single, “Livin’ It Up”. And of course, closing this set from The Karma Effect is the very familiar “Testify” from the debut album which enjoys the usual audience participation: A great end to a great set from a band that is clearly going from strength to strength.

After two fantastic supporting sets, it’s now time for tonight’s headliners in this feast of NWOCR and that comes in the shape of Bad Touch.

These five-piece rockers from the East of England were originally formed back in 2010 and have worked consistently hard ever since then earning themselves supporting slots over the years to the likes of The Quireboys, Tyketto, Jared James Nichols, The Answer, The Kentucky Headhunters and Skid Row, as well as appearing at some of the country’s top festivals including Download, Steelhouse and Ramblin’ Man. Currently, they’re coming toward the end of their own headline tour, promoting album number five, released at the back end of last year, “Bittersweet Satisfaction”.

It’s the lively, bouncing new album title track that opens up the set which is quickly followed by the equally upbeat “Lift Your Head Up”.” Strut” follows before we get “Dressed to Kill” which includes a great drum solo from Brad Newlands. “Slip Away” from the new album is next before we’re taken all the way back to the band’s 2015 debut release, “Half Way Home”, for “Good On Me”.

“Taste This” from the new album gives us our audience participation song before a beautiful guitar duet from Rob Glendinning and Daniel Seekings leads us into “Spend My Days” before the track bursts into life. Along with the title track, this is probably my own personal favourite from the new album. “This Life” concludes the main part of the set before we’re treated to a two-song encore, the first of which, “Nothing Wrong With That” (a song written about making it through lockdown), sees us introduced into the track with some fine solo acoustic guitar work from frontman and vocalist, Stevie Westwood before the rest of the band join him on stage to conclude the song and then bring the night to a close with “99%”, a song from the band’s second album, “Truth Be Told”.

It’s been a fantastic night with three great bands all on top form. If you’ve not yet seen any one (or more) of Electric Black, The Karma Effect or Bad Touch then I highly recommend that you do: you’re guaranteed a great night!

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