THE KENTUCKY HEADHUNTERS, Bad Touch @Robin 2, Bilston 2/10/2017


So good last year they did it again 

If you need a reminder as to why you need music, why it can move you in a way that nothing else does and just how precious moments are, then how’s this? The last time MV saw Bad Touch was on the day Chris Cornell died, tonight they are about three songs in when it comes up on my phone that Tom Petty has had a heart attack. Which on top of the world events that saw 500 people go to a country festival yesterday and get shot, makes bands like Bad Touch ever more vital, because purely and simply Bad Touch are incredible. They are no longer just the band most likely, they are the band who is. The modern equivalent of that bit in “Wanted (Dead Or Alive)” where Bon Jovi rode their iron horse, they’ve come from Norfolk to reclaim southern fried rock n roll armed with a six string and brilliant songs. Ones like “My Mother Told Me”, all swagger and hip shaking groove,”Under My Skin” which is as effortlessly cool as The Stones, or the slide drenched “Wise Water”. What they also do, tonight and this is the really exciting bit, is cheerfully air a new song, a quite glorious slow thing called “I Belong” and it does. They do. Any band that has a song as good as “99%” deserves whatever they get. They end, as normal, with “The Mountain” and Bad Touch just keep getting better.

Most of the Kentucky Headhunters have had no sleep since Saturday. Trans-Atlantic travel does that to people, but given that it took them 40 odd years to get over here at all, they aren’t going to let a bit of tiredness get in the way.

And that, really, is the wonderful and thoroughly uplifting thing about the four of them. They aren’t here because they have to be, some manager told them they had a market to crack or whatever business nonsense you like. Rather they are here because they want to be. They have lost time to make up and dammit, that’s what they’re going to do.

Wonderfully free of frills, but absolutely full of fun, you could make a case for TKH being the best southern rock band there is. “Dixie Lullaby” is superb, “Rag Top” is better and there is an almost instinctive understanding between them that makes it look easy.

Guitarist and singer Richard Young and his brother Fred – the band’s inimitable drummer and the only one who has managed to get some shut eye, a good job really considering he plays a lengthy solo at the end – have been playing together for almost 50 years but either they are incredible actors or they still love it just as much as ever. As they jam the bluesy strains of “Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine”, the grins are ever present, and the way they attack “House Of The Rising Sun” is a joy.

Since they were last here, they’ve stuck out the quite brilliant “On Safari” album, and the two they play from that, “Deep South Blues Again” and “God Loves A Rolling Stone” showcase its merits, as do the full on blues songs from their collaboration with Jonnie Johnson, with “Shufflin’ Back To Memphis” a particular highlight.

There is just a gleeful air about them. “My Daddy Was A Milkman” is as bouncy as you like, and “Spirit In The Sky” is a fine singalong.

Not a night for an encore – these down-home boys don’t need such rock star nonsense – instead they merely shimmy neatly into the sunshine filled “Dumas Walker” before ending with The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down” and its harmonies are perfect in these hands.

Just like last year, in that it was – at a time when we all need it – almost life-affirming. The Kentucky Headhunters are so good at this they are welcome to become regular visitors. For the second year on the trot just for 90 minutes a small corner of the West Midlands was given a deep south makeover.

If you want to how superb Bad Touch are for yourself. here’s your chance. 


Sheffield, Corperation                  Thursday 9 November
Leek, Foxlowe Arts Centre          Friday 10 November
Bristol, Tunnels                                Thursday 16 November

Manchester, Ruby Lounge           Friday 17 November
Newcastle, Cluny                            Saturday 18 November

Nottingham, Bodega                      Sunday 19 November

Glasgow, Stereo                              Thursday 23 November

Leeds, Brudenell                             Friday 24 November

Coventry, Empire                            Saturday 25 November

London, Islington Academy        Sunday 26 November

Norwich, Waterfront Studio       Friday 1 December
Southampton, Talking Heads     Saturday 2 December
Planet Rockstock                             Sunday 3 December

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