This one was always set to be a good one. The Kentucky Headhunters supported by Bad Touch? Instantly sold on that one!
Bad Touch aren’t strangers to me. Far from it. They’re one of those bands that regardless of who they support, I’m there at the front row to see the Norwich lads and they’ve been featured on the pages of here to accompany it. Thankfully, by and large, they’ve supported great band so it usually turns into a good value for money night. And they usually overshadow their touring partners. Their blend of blues and Southern rock is a great compliment to tonight’s headliner. Even though it’s been some time since their last appearance in Glasgow, the people out in force and their welcome on the last night of the tour is unquestionable.
As such, it’s hard to point out the good parts without re-treading old ground. One noticeable area is the setlist, featuring a handful of new songs set to appear on their as-yet-untitled second album. It’s Bad Touch as you know and love them, there’s more leaning to a Southern sound but “Waiting for This” sounds like Led Zeppelin at their moody best. The older songs from Half Way Home sound better than ever as guitarist Rob G breaks out the slide guitar and you’d be forgiven for mistaking them for sludgy Delta blues. The rest of the time, aforementioned Rob has his gold Les Paul cranking out a sound only a Les Paul can do. It’s absolute bliss.
The noticeable omission is a certain song about wearing ladies trousers but newcomer “99%” ensures the tongue-in-cheek factor still gets a look-in. Tighter than ever, they blast through their set, taking time to thank their latest touring partners and the mutual love the band and crowd have for each other is undeniable. Of course, the only good thing about their set ending is there’s always a next time to look forward to.
Three burly Americans walk from their dressing room onto the stage to rapturous applause, quickly followed by one of the best sights I’ve seen lodge himself behind his drumkit. In jeans, attached to braces and no shirt, Fred Young finishes it with bright red Converse and a Davy Crockett hat and immense sideburns. Even if he was a shit drummer, you’d be hard-pressed to take your eyes off him. Except he’s not. He’s bloody marvellous. Completely different from his guitar-wielding counterparts, he puts drummers half his age to shame with his abilities. Age is clearly not an issue with his performance.
Southern rock doesn’t get much more flawless than this. Tonight is a show not to be missed and the audience are well aware of it. Cherry-picking their songs from their extensive back catalogue, The Kentucky Headhunters throw in songs they want to play for fun like “Spirit in the Sky”, a play on “Stairway to Heaven”, alongside a couple of Frankie Miller numbers which get some of the loudest cheers of the night. A round of “The House of the Rising Sun” has the audience singing word perfect as Richard Young leads them through it and during their finale, are joined by Bad Touch for a round of “Hey Jude”.
Defying their age, the four-piece put on an incredible show and although a few people were there for the support and hung around for the headliner, they made short work of winning them over. Eight shows in eight nights is hard going for any band and any signs of fatigue were well hidden as they played as one of the tighest units I’ve ever witnessed. Southern rock is in the middle of a renaissance with bands like Blackberry Smoke and The Cadillac Three going from strength to strength but it struck me: these guys should be playing much bigger rooms than they were on this tour. Admittedly, they were playing some great venues but they should be playing to far bigger audiences though being their first time over here and not having much chance to travel the world will limit their choice.
Richard Young trades guitar barbs with his comrade Greg Martin, their guitar tones complimenting each other excellently, the differing guitars expertly weaving around each other. Richard Young also takes the occasional turn on vocals, drawling and rasping like only a man in a Southern rock band can. It’s a great contrast to Doug Phelps’ more soothing tones, much like his bass lines.
Admittedly, I didn’t know any of The Kentucky Headhunters’ material but I’ve taken a shine to Southern rock in recent years and given their Black Stone Cherry connection, I knew this would be worth my time. It would appear I was proven right.