Sunday, March 30th saw the last night of Bonafide’s UK tour in support of latest album Bombo. Glasgow’s Cathouse is easy to miss, an unassuming door next to a couple of dumpsters on one of the cities’ busiest streets, but the queue forming an hour before the doors opened made it clear than something worth seeing was going to happen inside.
First act Bad Touch seemed to have brought some fans with them, and with the cracking set they played they undoubtedly made a lot of new ones. Singer Stevie strutted onto the stage, long hair, rings on every finger and a magnificent waxed moustache, looking every inch like Justin Hawkins’ cooler brother. Quite often an opening act has to battle to take the attention of the crowd away from the bar, but Bad Touch had the crowd in the palm of their hands throughout, with entertaining stories and some great music. Halfway Home was a standout, an anthemic track “for anyone who ever felt a bit lost.” Their set ended with a stage invasion by Bonafide, and Stevie did well to sing on while having his backside squeezed by a laughing Pontus.
Next came Afterlife, who anyone passing by would have sworn were the headline act from the massive welcome they got. Closing a tour in your home city is a big deal, and for Glasgow boys Afterlife it must have been a huge affirmation. Singer Pete wasted no time telling the crowd it was “damn good to be back, ” which of course endeared them even more to a crowd that was already firmly on their side. Highlights included Raise Your Fist. Pete explained the song came about as a reaction to shows like Benefit Street. He thinks Rich Bastard Street is more appropriate, and the song is a tirade against the rich taking from the poor. Pete chatted his way through the set and built up a good rapport, at one point conducting a chorus of Happy Birthday to a friend in the crowd.
The band clearly enjoyed this final, homecoming show, admitting they were, “just jamming, making it up as we go along.” That may be true but they were also slick, rehearsed, but not stiff, just really good at what they do. Al and Raggy on guitars and Steve on bass moved around the stage, played to the crowd, made faces at drummer Iain, who hits so hard he must be exhausted, and generally looked like they were having a great time. They could easily headline this venue and be every bit as successful. Check out Planetmosh’s review of their new EP, Masters of Reality for more info on this great band.
And finally to headliners Bonafide. Pontus only had to roar one sentence to have the crowd firmly on side. “Good evening Glasgow, rock and roll capital of the world!” There are many bigger venues in Glasgow than the Cathouse, but few smaller. Bonafide could have filled a bigger one, but the great thing about small venues is that they’re only big enough for the die-hard fans, which means you get far more concentrated energy until the room becomes electric.
This is what happened on Sunday night, as the crowd roared, jumped and sang through every second of the show. Singer Pontus, guitarist Anders and bassist Martin used the small space brilliantly, swapping places, using each others microphones and leaning over the tiny pit so the front row could almost touch them. At one point Pontus came down into the pit and stood on the barrier, holding his mic out to the masses for some crowd participation on Suburb Baby Blues while the front row held him in place. Drummer Niklas also got in on the act, throwing broken drumsticks into the crowd. Highlight of the night was the closer, and probably the song Bonafide are best known for, Fill Your Head with Rock. The crowd went insane as the opening chords sounded, and the band were joined on stage by Bad Touch and Afterlife for a massive singalong to celebrate the last night of a very successful tour. The night ended with an invitation to join the bands at the bar for a glass of water. “We don’t drink, honestly,” lied Niklas, unconvincingly, while Anders lifted his Heineken and yelled “Skol!”