How we tire of the criminally overrated Rival Sons with their Led Zeppelin wannabe posturing and moustachioed prancing.
So when we were dispatched to review two bright young bands in that similar bluesy rock vein, we were rather concerned.
Kicking off the proceedings at the Underworld on a Monday night with only one bar open is never an easy gig. Many a lesser band would have merely gone through the motions. Fortunately Dirty Thrills are not a lesser band. The twenty or so sober folks in front of them reaped the rewards of turning up early.
Clad in black, frontman Louis James claims to be the son of a Moody Blues singer but must surely have the blood of pre-fat Jim Morrison and a fair deal of bourbon running through his veins. Doing the job he was obviously born to do his powerful vocals, crazed tambourine slapping and uber confident stance commanded the compact Camden stage as if headlining Madison Square Garden.
With a touch of the 70s porn king about him, Aaron Plows’ bass guitar was strapped to his skinny snake hips, getting it on as he gyrated and grooved against it. Lead guitarist, Jack Fawdry stamped his feet and worked up into a whirling crazed dervish pumping out sleazy riffs while drummer, Steve Corrigan kept it all effortlessly together.
From their obvious onstage chemistry to their finely etched tattoos, this gang are here to carry the mantle for dirty rock ‘n’ roll while blowing the older boys out of the water. Tight and well rehearsed yet naturally energetic, to compare them to Rival Sons is to do Dirty Thrills a disservice. All the key ingredients are there, now they just need that one killer song to deliver them to the masses.
Time passes on and a few nights later, sandwiched between the wondrously weird The Picturebooks (we’ll tell you about these another time) and the neither wondrous nor weird The Answer at the horribly grey Islington Academy on a Thursday night, Bad Touch had a much larger audience, including a seemingly lost plastic penis waving hen party, in front of them.
But when did the Charles I in a blanket look become something for a vocalist to aspire to? There’s a reason why the Roundheads beheaded him and it’s much the same reason that prog rock was thrown aside for punk. In fairness to them, their performance was glossy and polished, their songs free from split ends and neatly constructed.
Technically competent but achingly tedious (and perchance dreadfully contrived) they tossed their tresses around as if they were in a cliché shampoo advert, yet one felt they weren’t worth it. Therein lay the problem – clean, shiny hair and clean, shiny songs. Over conditioned, over rehearsed and lacking in natural grease.
You can spend hours in your bedroom practising your scales and hours more preening and primping but you can’t spray on that magical gritty rock and roll quality no matter how hard Lynx might try.
Dirty Thrills would be rock ‘n’ roll buying bog roll in Aldi; Bad Touch at their best will only ever reach the nasty, plastic rock-by-numbers perfected by, well, you know who by now. Perhaps that’s the goal.
Words and images by Carl ‘Timotei’ Batson. Not to be reproduced without express prior permission.