Sunday, 23 November 2014

Bad Touch - Tyketto Tour November 2014

For the fourth time in just over a year, the big mean Bad Touch machine hit the road again, this time the boys were supporting the mighty Tyketto on the UK leg of their European Tour.

The precious cargo was carted up to Carlisle early in the day, whilst we were stuck at work. Come 7pm, the mini mean Bad Touch machine was cruising North, laden with merchandise, acoustic instruments and enough breakfast supplies to feed an army for a month.

After a few frustrating diversions, we arrived in a cold and wet Carlisle to a room full of post-adolescent boys watching some spoof fantasy film. The one I expected to find this interesting - Bailey - had bailed early after a long night the night before.

Immediately welcomed, the response to our arrival was 'oh good, more beer' - thanks Steve! From that point on we knew we were in for a good week - kicking off at the G2 Glasgow the following day.

Every time we visit Scotland's largest city, I complain about the ridiculous one way system and the horrendous parking situation, but we were in for a very warm welcome as the venue's crew swapped insults with me in good, northern humour - putting me instantly at ease.

Tyketto turned up not long after the van was unloaded and made a point of introducing themselves. A lovely bunch of guys, keyboard and backing vocalist Jed welcomed with a hug, and drummer 'Goodfella Mike' raved about the set-up of George's kit - 'it's just perfect, this is gonna be great'.

'Mean Mike' was next, tour manager for the boys and not mean to me at all, a proud Glaswegian, he split his time between driving, merch, loading and general stage management - a very busy man!  Luckily for him, Tyketto only shipped DVDs and CDs for sale making his merch job easier, and giving me plenty of space to sell the Bad Touch wares, including the new t-shirt - a popular choice throughout the week.

Pre-sale tickets for the night were 290, a shock to me as I didn't realise quite how popular Tyketto were, but as the room began to fill and the atmosphere started to grow, I knew the boys were in for a great opening night.

The backing track quietened and over 300 sets of eyes turned towards the end of the room as Rob, Seeks, Bailey and George kicked off the brand new Bad Touch intro - much slower and more Zeppelin in style than the previous big-impact arrival. Steve sauntered to centre stage in time to accept the crowd's applause, shout a 'good evening' to the Scottish contingent and kick off new bluesy track 'Wise Water'.

Encouraging the crowd further with their new more funky look and sound, Bad Touch belted out 'Mother Load', encouraging the masses to join in with Seeks and George on backing vocals during the chorus.

A few familiar faces came to the merch stand to say hello, some who have joined the Bad Touch journey since they started travelling the UK last October with the Quireboys, and it was an absolute pleasure to catch up with them and an honour to be remembered by them - it truly made me feel like part of something special. This feeling would remain throughout the week. 

The boys' 40 minute set just flew by, but their applause was superb, showing that their fourth visit to the area in 13 months was appreciated. Plenty of people queued by the merch for photos and autographs. Cries of 'we’ve already got this CD, when's the next one coming out?' were a common occurrence, and it was a relief to say that the band will be recording in January.

A quick pack-up and a warm send-off by the G2 crew made for a pleasant drive back to Carlisle, where we rested our heads again in preparation for a busy day on Saturday – while Tyketto travelled to Northern Ireland; we headed off to Wales for 'Helloween Hard Rock Hel'.

An early start was needed as I swung by St Helens to see dad and collect some swiftly printed Bad Touch business cards, before heading on the beautiful journey to Phwelli. The Welsh hills and stunning crystal blue waters were a welcome break from the monotony of the motorways.

We landed at Hfan y Mor, collected the band’s passes and got familiar with our surroundings before the terrifying moment when Steve asked Mark is he could drive the big mean Bad Touch machine to the chalet. I stayed well back in the mini beast while people looked on in confusion and humour. It was a lovely feeling once Steve had abandoned the vehicle, for the boys to be asked for photos outside their van, and to walk past chalets blasting out the ‘Down & Out’ CD – a true sign of a great night to come.

Five press interviews followed, a part of each festival which is becoming a regular occurrence the more popular they become. Some of the band love it, some not so much, but to hear all five members having their say is welcomed as I hover on the periphery.

After some healthy food and a quick change into gig gear (and a second hair wash of the day for Seeks), the boys were ready to hit stage 2, and the crowds had really grown in anticipation of their arrival.  

Catchy up- tempo track ‘Waste my time’ really got the crowd moving, and one of my favourite ever Bad Touch songs, ‘Sweet Little Secret’ has been beautifully re-mastered and was performed to perfection with a little bit of crowd participation headed up by Stevie.

I was squished against the front barrier, so couldn't see the crowds behind, but was assured hundreds had come to check the boys out, and it sounded like it during every gap in the music as the cheers intensified. The 40 minute set simply flew by, but it was great to spend some time with the band after the show as they relaxed with a drink and chatted to fans old and new.

 Merch sales weren’t wonderful at Hard Rock Hell, but they never are, so the next morning we packed up the gear, woke up those who decided to make a night of it, and headed for Old Colwyn for a momentous gig – their first ever entry fee headline show.

The day didn’t get off to the best start, with rooms not having been arranged for the band at the Marine Hotel, the destination for the show, but it was soon sorted, and after another trip to Weatherspoon’s (the staple tour diet), we arrived back just in time for a quick merch set-up and to hear the brilliant set put on by support act Bad Dog,.

I’m not sure if I just speak for myself or if I speak for the band as well, but I was genuinely impressed with the number of people who turned up for the show. People paid to watch Bad Touch, and what a lovely bunch of people they were too – many had either been at HRH that weekend, or had seen the lads on their Electric Boys tour in September or with Bonafide in March at the same venue – a friendly little pub not far from the beach.

Steve and the boys seemed genuinely humbled by the attendance, treating the Welsh contingent to a 75 minute set which combined the new set with old classics like ‘Water’s Edge’, ‘Down’, and ‘Dr Heartbreak’, as well as a brilliant cover of The Rolling Stones ‘Jumpin Jack Flash’.

Although the Marine crowd is more of a ‘sit and enjoy’ kind of audience, the merch sales and post-gig reaction show that they really enjoyed themselves – despite the early evening slot of 5pm.
The lads stayed over nearby whilst we headed back to the parents’ just 40 miles away, where a night in my own bed and some home comforts including mum’s homemade spag bol were gratefully received, before we headed for a 3 hour journey to Newcastle on Monday morning.

Band mum Lynda (actually only Bailey’s biological mother, but she’s been adopted as everyone’s mum) and Kay joined us for the final three gigs of the tour, giving the boys more support and meaning I wasn’t the only female on tour for a little while.  We hooked up with Tyketto again in Newcastle at The Cluny – a great little venue run by really nice people (not only because they gave us free food which was beautiful).

The Tyketto sound check was similar to the Quireboys way back last October – hours of fiddling to create absolute perfection. Vocalist Danny Vaughan has an incredible voice, matched perfectly by Chris’s insanely good lead guitar solos. Again, ticket sales were strong and the room was already packed when Bad Touch took to the stage later that evening.

The Geordie fans know what they want, and take a lot to be impressed, meaning the lads didn’t feel like their set, which included the beautiful bluesy ballad ‘Something Someone’ and the brilliant ‘Words I never said’ did the trick, but merch sales and the reaction to them as they returned to the merch stand changed their view, although it did become a turning point with their set. The slower, more bluesy intro into ‘Wise Water’ would be replaced the following night in Nottingham following feedback from the travelling Bad Touch faithful.

Tyketto stole the show at The Cluny, belting out massive tracks including ‘Sail Away’, ‘Strength in numbers’ and Danny’s solo track, the brilliant ‘Haunted’ to make the £18 on the door entry fee well worth it for the hundreds who packed in. They sound a lot like Bon Jovi on recordings, but have a much rockier edge live, with ‘Sound off’ being a personal favourite – Danny’s two fingers up to the music industry of today.

After loading the van and counting the merch takings, a midnight search for food in Newcastle took us under the Tyne Bridge on a bit of a tourist trek, before an early start and another trip down the M1.

I always love going to Nottingham, and the Rescue Rooms in particular. The band always gets a great reception, and the venue is the perfect size for a rock gig. We were a bit tight on merch space, but we made it work with two tables set up on the steps to the right of the stage.

Tegan and Jessii joined the Bad Touch contingent for the gig, which saw the new intro gratefully received and set-list must have ‘Good on me’ go down a storm once again with the huge crowds that gathered on a Tuesday evening. Another record merch night showed that the amount of touring the band has done this year has worked – they now have fans all over the UK prepared to travel to watch them perform a support slot.

In addition, many hardcore Tyketto fans spoke of their surprise at how good Bad Touch were and what an impressive show they put on. This was welcome praise for the band, given the completely new audience Tyketto brings in comparison to Bonafide and the Electric Boys.
Photo courtesy of Robert Balmer Photography
A good night’s sleep followed and a midday start for the trek to Manchester and a trip across Snake Pass for us in the mini mean Bad Touch machine, before we landed at the Club Academy again for the final date of the tour. We were in the basement room once more, a large, quirky space with seating areas, a pit for standing and a perfect merch area at the back of the room. I set up for what I hoped would be the most successful night of the week.

After setting up, we headed for Weatherspoon’s again for the last supper, and a catch up on the successes and failures of the tour, and ideas going forward. A longer soundcheck by the boys is a new addition to this tour, as they double check the now more prominent backing vocal harmonies. A quick clothes change before doors were opened and I immediately had a queue.

Lots of familiar faces came to say hello, and one couple who had seen the band 16 times this year, came for a chat. It’s amazing to see how much of an impact this last year has had on their popularity. For the last time on the road in 2014, we watched Rob expertly lead Steve into the mesmerising ‘Halfway Home’ before completing a note-perfect guitar solo, showing off his skills to absolute perfection.

‘New Day’ fittingly finishes the set nowadays, and although not my favourite Bad Touch song of all time, it really has grown on me over the week, and I can see the impact of ending the set with it. I think I’ll always be a traditionalist and want the set to end with ‘Down’, but I see the need for change, and the ending is perfectly done as usual.

The tinge of sadness came in as Tyketto’s set began, as the short, but very sweet tour was almost at an end. We couldn’t have asked for a better reception, and we surpassed the merch sales target thanks to a record night in Manchester.

It’s difficult not to feel nostalgic about the last year. The band has achieved massive success – The Marshall Ultimate Band, winning a year’s endorsement and a slot at Download, a summer full of festivals from Les-Fest to Steelhouse, four UK tours in 13 months and two appearances at Hard Rock Hell. Add to this the huge amount of writing, practising and local performances by the boys, and it’s no wonder they’re now seen as a credible, professional bluesy rock band by thousands of new followers.

Despite their success, the band continues to work extremely hard to achieve their dreams, and I feel truly honoured to be involved with such a brilliant bunch of guys. Thank you, again, for letting us be a part of your wonderful, ongoing story. Here’s to an even more successful 2015!