Saturday 19 November 2022

HotKid / The Twisted Dolls / Full Billy / Kyle Toolan - Manchester Retro - 18th November 2022

HotKid opened their first ever UK tour in Manchester on Friday night with a powerful intense set in the basement of Retro bar supported by excellent sets from Manchester's The Twisted Dolls and Preston's Full Billy and solo artist Kyle Toolan. 
We catch the last couple of songs of acoustic songwriter Kyle Toolan performing his first ever show  who despite appearing very nervous showed promise and got a warm reception from the small audience that had gathered and much encouragement from the other artists on the bill. He plays a new song for the first time called Falling Down which has the bones of a really strong track and finishes on Pedal Hits The Metal which some of the audience already know and love.

Full Billy are a four-piece fronted by Joe who has a powerful voice and a stage persona that will serve them well going forward as they enter their second year as a band backed up by Ale on bass, Dan on lead guitar and Simon on drums. They finish on their debut single Power Couple which announced them to the world, but the rest of the set shows that they've already got a few potential singles in their locker, Time We Wasted and Chapters being particularly strong contenders but there isn't a weak track in their half-hour. 

Next up are duo The Twisted Dolls who've been on the scene for a number of years now and mix early singles Electrify, War Child and King Of The Blues with their recent single The Waltz, which is nothing of the sort of course, and newer songs Banging Down The Backdoor Blues and Rattlesnakes. With vocals, guitar (Jackson) and drums (Ellis) they create a huge sound from just the two of them and one that comes from having worked together for so long and having a strong bond between them. There's lots of between song chat and humour that comes with that too that makes the crowd warm to them even more and makes the audience feel involved even with some participation on King Of The Blues at the end of the set.

It's a tough gig for HotKid who are clearly lovers of the music of Manchester and excited to be playing in the city for the first time and they deliver a performance that should really be in front of a much bigger crowd than the one they have but such is the lot of touring bands these days, particularly those who aren't fortunate enough to have nostalgia and marketing budgets on their side. 

What they lack in that, HotKid more than make up for in the energy of their performance, particularly the livewires Jesse and Andrew  on guitar and bass whilst Shiloh delivers songs deeply personal songs that act as a medicine (as she described music in a recent interview) for the aches and pains of life and everything it throws at her. Between songs there's a lot of laughs about having spent forty hours getting to Manchester and rediscovering teenage drink Hooch to get them through the night and a real sense of camaraderie and community that the audience really pick up and connect to. The roars at the end of each song are as loud as a crowd many times the size.

With an impressive back catalogue to lean back on (we leave with three albums in our bag) there's plenty of material for them to work with and the set starts with four of the first five tracks (Letter, Mirror Mirror, Getaway and Warrior) from last year's excellent Truth Or Deceiver which we'd recommend as a starting point. When they delve back into earlier material like Jealous and Dizzy, the quality and energy never drops. 

Sometimes you stumble across a band (we found HotKid via a friend who knows one of their relatives post looking to get them a gig on a day off the tour) that would otherwise have completely gone under your radar and they often turn out to be the best discoveries. HotKid put their heart and soul into these songs and that conviction makes a connection with an audience that seemed to know little if anything about them beforehand. That's the sign of a great band whether they're playing to tens of thousands in a stadium or tens in a dark basement.

HotKid's website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter. Shiloh also co-owns Fortune Stellar Records.

Their tour calls in at Newport LePub (November 20), London Dalston Victoria (21), Brighton Pipeline (22), Hull Adelphi (23) and Newcastle Little Buildings (24).

The Twisted Dolls are on Facebook and Twitter.

Full Billy are on Facebook and Twitter.

Kyle Toolan is on Facebook.


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