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Friday, 20 November 2015

A View From The Back Of The Room: Snakecharmer (Review By Paul)

Snakecharmer The Globe

Decisions made on impulse can often turn into a disaster. A bad food choice, the wrong turn on a road trip, you get the picture. However, occasionally they turn out to be absolute genius. The cancellation of a business trip allowed me to head for one of our favourite venues, The Globe in Cardiff for a night of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll. A quick pint and catch up with Matt and we headed into the venue at 7:45 pm, and not a minute too late as support act Bad Touch from Dereham, Norfolk, were already into their stride. I’d seen these guys at Download last year and their classic hard rock fused with a blues undertone really was enjoyable then. Well, the band have improved beyond recognition and despite the cramped stage (mainly Harry James’ drum kit) they put in a most excellent shift. Bad Touch have released their debut album (Half Way Home) this year (damn good it is too) and they treated us to a selection of tracks over the 45 minute set. Chunky riffs, catchy hooks and visually stimulating, their combination of Black Crowes, Zeppelin, The Answer and a pinch of Aerosmith proved a hit with the growing crowd. The bizarre dancing of one member of the audience provided much amusement but also some trepidation and as a result there was a wide space around said whirling fan, leaving the majority of the audience somewhat penned towards the middle and back of the floor. Bad Touch paced their set well, with the rockier Wise Water mixing with the bluesy soulful numbers such as Half Way Home and No Excuse. The tongue in cheek Good On Me (The Jeans Song) showed the band’s humorous side but these guys are no joke with some superb guitar work from Rob Glendinning on display throughout the evening. Drummer George Drewery not only laid down the backbeat with bassist Bailey but also had the voice to provide supporting backing vocals. Stage right Seeks provided the rhythm whilst front and centre the captivating voice of front man Stevie, also displaying quality skills on the harmonica and tambourine, demonstrated that Bad Touch are a band with strength in every department. 8/10

For those of us around in the late 1970s and early 1980s, there was no band who could touch the combined power of David Coverdale and Whitesnake. Their blues based, soulful hard rock provided some of rock’s most enduring anthems and their 1981 headline set at Donington was legendary. Over 30 years on, and whilst Coverdale is a shadow of his former self, surrounded by overrated American musicians, two of the original members of THAT incredible Whitesnake line up are linked once more in the superb Snakecharmer. The self-titled debut album released three years ago skilfully meshed the qualities of all involved; the stunning voice of Chris Ousey, the powerhouse drumming of Harry James, the fabulous keyboards of Adam Wakeman, understated but vital bass lines of Neil Murray and the double guitar of Laurie Wisefield and Micky Moody. Having seen the band at the Steehouse Festival in 2013, I was keen to see them again and they did not disappoint.

Opening with a couple of tracks from the album, Guilty As Charged and Nothing To Lose, the band were clearly on good form as they neared the end of their UK tour. The interplay between all members was a joy to watch, true professionals going about their craft with real love and enjoyment. Murray has always maintained a low stage presence, but his occasional invitation to the crowd to clap or sing along was always received positively. Of course, the man is a master of the bass guitar and he made it look pretty simple as he kept time with the quite awesome Thunder sticksman Harry James. The set was liberally sprinkled with some of Whitesnake’s classic tracks, the highlight for me a beautiful Ain’t Gonna Cry No More. A rousing Ready An’ Willing got the crowd singing along before a couple more tracks from the album including the tender Falling Leaves slowed the pace. This really is a super group of a band and although the spot light often falls on Moody’s incredible slide guitar work (magnificent solo included) he is matched note for note by the former Wishbone Ash man Wisefield. The spotlight doesn't stay in one place for long with Snakecharmer, and Ousey’s powerful and soulful vocals really does add to all the material. A sing-a-long of Here I Go Again in particular allowed him to demonstrate his quality as a frontman whilst there were several opportunities for Adam Wakeman, son of Rick but more formidably Ozzy Ozbourne’s keyboard player for the past seven years to really show what a gifted musician he is. The band closed with My Angel, the first track on the album and Here I Go Again before a deserved encore of Fool For Your Lovin’ brought an excellent evening to a close at the civilised time of 10:30pm, which judging by the demographic was about right. If you like your rock with a large dose of proper blues, then catch Snakecharmer. They won’t disappoint you. 9/10

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