I love making discoveries when I go to a live show. Last year, it was Tax the Heat when they supported The Virginmarys. Their foot-stomping rhythm and blues made for a great support act.
Tonight, at Glasgow’s Nice N Sleazy, they’re playing the final show of their first UK headline show. And as frontman Alex Veale said, with a debut album due next year and signing to a record label, “This is just the start” as he thanks the audience for coming out tonight.
Kicking off the night was Leogun and the three-piece have to be one of the best fits I’ve seen for a support act and the main act. Full of bluesy, dirty riffs, they had you nodding along before you even realised. Frontman Tommy Smith was especially gracious for the warm reception and thankful to Tax the Heat for taking them out on tour. With this being their last night, they were given some extra time to plough through their material and advertising their EP, Majick Potion, which I picked up (expect a review in the coming days).
Had they been the only band on the bill, I’d have been thoroughly satisfied. Matt Johnson on bass relaxed, striding backwards and forwards, putting down some massive grooves for drummer Michael Lloyd to lock in with. A touch grittier than the headliners, they left the stage to cheers and a few new fans clamouring around the merch booth.
A speedy turnaround and four suited and booted lads plug in their guitars and sit behind a drumkit. The crowd are now on their feet after lounging back in Nice N Sleazy’s comfy benches. Maybe not as heavy as their opening band but Tax the Heat don’t waste time to impress, fitting fourteen songs into an hour.
Given the suits and the sound and you ignored the modern haircuts the band are sporting and tech, you could convince yourselves this was a band from the same era as The Kinks and The Beatles. In amongst their older material like “Fed to the Lions” and “Caroline”, the band focus just as much on their new material to be found on their upcoming debut album with songs like “Some Sympathy” and the poignant “Stood on the Platform”.
As one song finishes with an extended outro, Alex Veale perches himself on the edge of the stage, putting his Les Paul through its paces and the band step ever so briefly from the tamer side of the sixties into the harder and rougher round the edges seventies, shades of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin emerging.
It’s obvious to watch a band like Tax the Heat and know they’re putting everything they have into their performance. With the excitement of their debut headline tour at an end and the rapturous reception they receive, it’s clear that this won’t be the last one and we’ll be seeing them in a bigger venue next time. They have the crowd so much on their side that when Veale addresses the crowd as Manchester and making a joke of it before anyone else can jump on it, it’s met with a laugh.
Meanwhile, Jack Taylor’s drumming skills are just as captivating as the last time I saw the band, not needing a massive kit to create a loud and tangible rhythm with his partner in crime on bass, Antonio Angotti. As for JP Jacyshyn, he and Veale complement each other with their melodies, ensuring they keep the crowd enraptured to the point one person in front of me is practising his air guitar skills. It’s a testament to the modern bluesier bands the guitar work can firmly plant its feet in the rock camp whilst showcasing their influences and their own unique take on it, such is the great thing about this genre.
However, the most noteworthy point of the night isn’t so much the individual members or the music. It’s the band themselves. Whilst they were brilliant supporting The Virginmarys last year, the last year has shown how much they’ve tightened up and refined their performance. And it was well polished last time around. This is a band taking their first steps out into the big, bad world of the music industry. The energy on stage shows how excited Tax the Heat are and they know they have something special with this band.