top of page

Bad Touch, The Karma Effect, Electric Black.

Artists: Bad Touch, The Karma Effect, Electric Black

Venue: London, Islington Academy

Date: 07th April 2024


"Tonight I saw three fantastic bands, featuring fourteen excellent musicians, who put on a show worthy of any stage in the country."


 

Bad Touch © Myke Gray
Bad Touch © Myke Gray

For me, a classic riff played on an electric guitar, through an overdriven amplifier, is about as good as it gets. So the prospect of seeing three bands in one evening, all of whom feel the same way about it as I do, was quite an exciting one. So with a bounce in my step I made my way to the Islington Academy in North London, to see Electric Black, The Karma Effect and headliners Bad Touch.


Electric Black


Electric Black are a four-piece made up of Matt Butler on drums, Ryan Trotman on bass, Jonny Bryant on guitar and Ali Shiach on lead vocals and guitar. The stage is fairly small in this venue, so it was good to see all three bands using the same drum kit, enabling everyone to put on a proper show. I’ve always thought it petty when support bands were made to set up a second and sometimes third kit. The first thing that strikes me about this band is their slightly unusual look. To my eyes they look like characters from a Quintin Tarantino or Coen Brothers movie. Something that my cinematic mind finds appealing. They open with ‘Put it Down On Me’ and right from the start it’s crystal clear what this band is all about. Crunching guitar riffs, a powerhouse rhythm section, and biting bluesy vocals that sit like icing on a cake. You could put these guys in any bar or club in the world and they would know how to get the party started. Butler has a glint of madness in his eyes which is always a good thing for a Rock N Roll drummer. He’s a heavy hitter with a whole lotta groove. Bassist Trotman is a monster musician, whose rhythm and timing is impeccable. He plays with total authority and together they make a formidable pairing. Guitarist Bryant, donned in sunglasses and hat throughout, is aloof and keeps an air of mystery about him at all times. But have no doubt this guy is a serious player, some might say deadly. Singer Shiach comes across as an aristocratic rocker banished from the fold, for reasons untold. This fellow is an extremely talented musician. Not only a great guitar player but also blessed with a damn fine voice, reminiscent at times of Great White’s Jack Russell. Individually they are all great musicians, but it’s the combination of their collective talents that makes them so interesting. In this instance the sum is most definitely greater than the parts. Even though they were the first band on, they were playing like headliners. A well-oiled machine, they hit their groove right from the off. The audience responded to them immediately and their confidence grew with every song. Shiach is a natural leader and shows no fear or hesitation when addressing the crowd. Their set consisted of seven songs all taken from their new album ‘Late Night Lightning’. Their influences are worn very clearly on their sleeves, with elements of Led Zeppelin, Bad Company and Soundgarden, all interwoven into something new and current. They closed their short but extremely enjoyable set with ‘Sick Of Myself’, a song that contained an absolutely brilliant solo from Bryant. I believe this band will make considerable steps up the Rock And Roll ladder once they have an agent who can get them on the right festivals. They just need to find their audience and they will be away.


The Karma Effect.


I have seen The Karma Effect a few times so I knew exactly what to expect. For me they are one of the best bands on the current scene. They are superb musicians, they write excellent songs, and in Henry Gottelier they have an outstanding guitarist, vocalist and frontman. The rest of the line-up is completed by Robbie Blake on guitar, Liam Quinn on bass, Ash Powell on drums, and Seb Emmins on keyboards. They have recently signed to Earache Records and their first release ‘Promised Land’ is due on May 3rd. They opened with ‘All Night Long’ and in a split second you know you’re watching a class act. All the hard work has paid off and they’re now the finished article. There is no weak link in this band, but the ace in the hole is Gottelier. His voice sounds incredible, the biggest compliment I can pay him is that when he hits those high notes, he’s reminiscent of Neville MacDonald of Skin. It would appear that everyone in the venue is already a fan, the entire audience were onside before they’d even played a note. Their music is a delightful blend of Blues, Soul, Gospel and Rock. The musicianship is of the highest quality. Drummer Powell is rock solid, keeping a steady groove throughout, forever resisting the urge to get carried away. He forms one half of a watertight partnership with Quinn on bass. Emmins is an exceptional musician who brings a lot of quality to the band’s overall sound. His choice of inversions and harmonic arrangement are flawless. Guitarist Blake has flair and style, not only in his playing but also visually. He is the perfect foil for Gottelier and the musical chemistry between the two of them is palpable. Both are fantastic guitar players with complimenting styles. ‘Wild Honey’ is a standout song which encapsulates everything that is great about this band. With its crossover appeal you could imagine it being played on US Rock radio day and night. Throughout the whole show Gottelier gives 100% commitment and works tirelessly to engage with the audience. He is unquestionably a star, it’s just a matter of time until everyone else realises it.


’Livin’ It Up’ is songwriting of the highest order. It features a killer guitar riff that Joe Perry would be proud of, and a monster chorus that features some spectacular harmonies. This is a song that will still be listened to for decades. ‘Steal Your Heart’ is more of the same. Out of the new generation this band is leading the way in the art of songwriting. Their musical arrangements, melodies and harmonies are extremely well thought out and sophisticated. They finished their set with a firmly established fan favourite ‘Testify’. Judging the reaction of those in attendance it would have been easy to think they were the headliners. The Karma Effect are now ready to take on the world and I think their path will be on an upward trajectory for quite some time.


Bad Touch


The first time I encountered Bad Touch was in 2011 when they supported Red White & Blues. They were five incredibly humble and gracious human beings that were a pleasure to be around. Zoom forward thirteen years and they’ve grown into an extremely experienced Rock And Roll band who can hold their own against the best of them. A line-up that consists of Stevie Westwood on lead vocals, Daniel Seekings on guitar, Rob Glendinning on lead guitar, Michael Bailey on bass and Brad Newlands on drums. In a world where everyone wants to be an overnight sensation, Bad Touch shows that nothing beats experience. Now with six albums under their belt and countless tours, they walk onstage like men who have total confidence in their abilities, and rightfully so. Looking every inch the Rock Star, Westwood is dressed head to toe in a wonderfully tailored gold snakeskin suit with matching glasses and hat. They open with ‘Bittersweet Satisfaction’, the title track of their latest album. Immediately the twin guitar attack of Seekings & Glendinning pins you to the wall. There are not many things as glorious as a couple of Les Paul’s played through cranked up Marshall stacks. Bad Touch are pure Rock And Roll, and their audience love them for it. ‘Lift Your Head Up’, ‘Strut’ and ‘Dressed To Kill’ are banged out in quick succession, showing exactly why they are the headliners. Westwood and Seekings have a natural chemistry. They stand side by side like two soldiers that have gone through many battles but are still fighting for what they believe in. I believe that this relationship is the foundation of the band.


‘Slip Away’, and ‘Good On Me’ keep the party going. We are now halfway through the main set and it’s time for a little audience participation. Setting up ‘Taste This’, Newlands lays down a solid groove while Westwood preaches to the choir, who dutifully respond. The surest sign to a band that the audience are digging what you do is when they sing along. It’s like a shot of adrenaline to the heart for any musician. You will normally see them go up a gear after this and that’s exactly what happened tonight. Seekings changes from his familiar Les Paul to a Telecaster to get the appropriate single coil sound, before launching into two of their stand-out songs, ‘I Get High’ and ‘See It To Believe It’.


This is an incredibly tight band. Seekings and Glendinning have their parts so well honed that they play like conjoined twins. The rhythm section of Bailey and Newlands are rock solid. Collectively they create the perfect canvas for Westwood to paint his magic. ‘Spend My Days’ is my personal favourite, its sophisticated vocal melody brings out a different and possibly underutilised dimension to Westwood’s voice. It also features a beautiful west coast guitar solo from Glendinning, reminiscent of Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers. The great Rock And Roll rhythm guitarists are few and far between, Malcolm Young will always be the king, but in Seekings you have someone who understands the job, and excels in initiating the groove that each song is built upon. The intro to ‘Let Go’ being a perfect example. A surprise inclusion, to me at least, was a cover of Alanis Morrisette’s ‘One Hand In My Pocket’. They put a great spin on it and the audience loved it.


They closed the main set with the powerhouse anthem ‘This Life’. They left the stage to huge applause but everyone knew there was more to come. The first encore saw Westwood playing acoustic on possibly the most mellow song of the evening, ‘Nothing Wrong With That’, before they launched into probably their most known and bonafide fan favourite, ’99%’. The thing I admire most about Bad Touch is that they’ve stuck together and stuck at it. They’ve worked incredibly hard to build a loyal fanbase all around the country, while refining their songwriting skills. I for one hope they continue to do this as the world of Rock And Roll is a much better place with them in it.


Tonight I saw three fantastic bands, featuring fourteen excellent musicians, who put on a show worthy of any stage in the country. The ticket was extremely underpriced and I doubt that anyone left the venue feeling short changed. Rock N Roll was alive and well in North London tonight.


 

Review & Photos: Myke Gray

 

Gallery: All photos © Myke Gray (used with kind permission)

Bad Touch


 

The Karma Effect


 

Electric Black