Keeping the fans waiting outside in the freezing cold for an hour after the advertised door time isn’t the greatest start to an evening and then being shepherded from the main venue into the smaller dimly lit attic room depresses further. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait too long until the music gets underway and things start heating up with Birmingham trio MeMe Detroit putting in an energetic set. There’s an eclectic mix of tunes from a grungy laid back cover of Bowie’s ‘Ashes To Ashes’ to more upbeat poppier moments of ‘How She Runs’ through to more atmospheric soundscapes. They are entertaining enough with the face painted MeMe being the main focus of attention, who makes a couple of forays into the crowd with her guitar. Although they get an encouraging response from the audience it seems that some people are still pre-occupied by thawing out to match MeMe’s enthusiasm.
Mollie Marriott is up next after a short break. The late start means that each band have foregone a couple of tunes to keep to schedule so we get a slightly truncated set. They kick off with the title track from her new album Truth Is A Wolf. What is immediately apparent is that live, the songs have a little more oomph.
For ‘King Of Hearts’ Mollie is keen, and rightly proud, to introduce it as a song she wrote with Judie Tzuke. A laid back song which mixes grunge and soul and is complemented with some harmony vocals. This is then followed by a short tribute to Tom Petty and it’s to her credit that she chooses to cover something far less obvious with ‘I Should Have Known It’. This also gives guitarist Johnson Jay the opportunity to let rip.
Her short set is rounded off with current single ‘Control’ which brings to mind Rumours era Fleetwood Mac and has a rocky groove throughout. It’s top drawer stuff and ends the short set on a high. A long and illustrious career beckons and I look forward to catching a full set from Mollie and her band in the near future.
Bad Touch have spent the last couple of years touring hard and it’s paid off. They’ve honed their skills as a band and they’re pretty damn tight on stage and play with a cool, laid back swagger. Their second album, Truth Be Told, is their strongest release to date, but live the songs are far more dramatic and have a real kick to them.
They open with a new song, ‘Take Me Away’ before settling into a set that consists of a mixture of songs from both Half Way Home and Truth Be Told. ‘Heartbreaker, Soulshaker’ and ‘Wise Water’ are standout high energy rock tunes which serve to set the tone for things to come. Another new tune; ‘I Belong’ sees Rob Glendinning play some sublime slide guitar, and gives us some indication that the next album is likely to be something very special indeed.
Things are slowed down a little for an acoustic take on ‘Something Someone’ which they play to a very attentive and appreciative crowd. All too often when bands try this, the audience chatter ruins the enjoyment of listening to song, so it’s a good reflection on the audience as well as the band to maintain their attention. It’s then back to business as usual with a good sing-a-long to ‘My Mother Told Me’ and “a song for the cowboys” (‘Outlaw’) tears along at a fair pace.
The change in the set catches out Mollie Marriott as when Stevie Westwood announces that there’ll be a guest joining them for the next song, she’s nowhere to be seen. As the crowd quieten down, we hear Mollie holler from down the stairs ‘I’m Coming!!’. As she arrives on stage she’s convinced it’s payback from mutual winds up on each other from the tour. It’s clear that the two acts have enjoyed themselves immensely on this tour both on and off stage. They launch into a ripping take on Ike & Tina Turner’s ‘Baby Get It On’. A perfect mix of blues, soul and rock.
Without the ado of encores, the evening closes with a belting ‘99%’ which sees the band giving their all. I’m sure that if the band are around in 20 years time they will still be playing this, it’s such a great blues rock song with a timeless and effective lyric. It’s been a great evening of Rock ‘N’ Roll and Bad Touch are fully deserving of their first headline tour. May there be many more.