Thomas Bisset reviews and takes photos of Toby Michaels Rolling Damned and ROADWAY acoustic on the 31st of May, 2012. To begin with, some apologies (or excuses – depends how you want to look at it). Unknown to myself at the time, our writer couldn’t make the gig and had to cancel at the last minute, and the late show meant I wouldn’t see all of Heaven’s Basements’ gig at Mad Hatters before having to bail out to catch my last bus home. It wouldn’t be fair to review a whole show on the basis of a handful of songs, so apologies to them for not talking about them, despite being the headliners. For what it’s worth, I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next time they’re up – anyone into their classic (especially eighties) rock should certainly look them up. Also, I didn’t take any notes, like I normally would when reviewing, so most of this is from memory, which is fuzzy at the best of times. There’s going to be mistakes. Cheers for bearing with me here! – Tom In a slight change to the advertised schedule, it was ROADWAY that took to the stage first – or more accurately their lead singer Dougie Grieg. A seasoned performer in his own right, he eased everyone gently into the evening with a few of his own songs which, on reflection at least, was completely at odds with the rest of the billing; the somewhat folk and traditional influenced tracks would have been right at home down the stairs in Hootananny. At the time though, his expert use of his “backing band” which “never gets drunk” had virtually everyone enthralled. Couldn’t ask for a better start. Due to the accident leaving guitarists Ross McEwen and Ross Elder with some very serious injuries (ones which all at InvernessGiGs wish them a speedy recovery from), tonight’s ROADWAY line-up was understandably smaller, with Mr McEwen’s brother Ryan taking over on guitar duty. It’s doubtful many bands practice for situations like this, but ROADWAY’s sound remains professional and unmistakable even when played acoustically; if a band could sound half as good as this with two men down, they’d be doing very well indeed. Their brand of heavier rock would probably have been preferable tonight, and I have no doubt their brothers in the hospital wards would agree with that, but this will certainly do the trick for now at least. In a slightly ironic twist, whilst ROADWAY were busy unintentionally downsizing their lineup, Toby Michaels was doing the complete opposite. KOBI’s Gary Thain and Steve Robertson, Ex-Stolen Order guitarist Johnny Gash and sound-engineer/drummer Calum Martin all bring their own little touches, but the opener couldn’t have been more business-as-usual if he tried; a hand-clapping, foot-stomping intro segueing into a solo acoustic cover of “Bat Out Of Hell”. “Save Me” and “I Miss You” brought out a little of KOBI’s sound (particularly with Gary’s guitar work) while predictably “Love Money”, a Stolen Order fan-favourite, was lapped up by Mr Gash. The highlight though was the final song; a massively reworked version of “A Little Bit Of What You Fancy” with a drastically different dynamic. Toby Michaels Rolling Damned seem to bring a calming influence to the man himself. Gone are the System Of A Down covers, which seemed to alienate many who either didn’t know the original song or couldn’t see past the eccentricity of it all: In comes far more familiar covers and more heartfelt original tracks, a major departure from Toby’s past work. From the reaction of all those in Mad Hatters on this mild Thursday night, the consensus seems to indicate Toby Michaels Rolling Damned are a winning combination. You can read a bit more about about Toby Michaels here and whilst we do not have a review of Heaven’s Basement we do have photos here.