Tag Archives: Touchstone

Touchstone added to Winter’s End bill

Winters End

Touchstone have been added to the bill of Planet Rock’s Winter’s End festival, held on 24-26 February at Sandford Holiday Park in Poole, Dorset. The emphasis is on hard rock and blues, and also features Chantel McGregor alongside headliners The Answer, Toseland and Inglorious.

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Touchstone and The Heather Findlay Band at The Borderline

Aggie of Touchstone

Touchstone came to London’s Borderline for the second night of their short Christmas tour. These three dates were the band’s first live appearances since the 2015 farewell gigs for Kim Seviour and Rob Cottingham, and gave audience the first opportunity to see the band’s new lineup featuring Aggie Figurska on lead vocals and Liam Holmes on keys.

Support was an acoustic version of The Heather Findlay band. Billed as a trio with guitarist Martin Ledger and harpist Sarah Dean, they were augmented with Touchstone’s Henry Rogers alternating between cajon and keys. Beginning with “Eyes of the Forest”, they delivered a beautiful set with Sarah Dean’s harp given a lot of prominence.

Most of the set came from the newly-released “I Am Snow”, the exceptions being the dreamy “Lake Sunday” from “The Illusion’s Reckoning”, and a stunning cover of Steeleye Span’s version of the medieval carol “Gaudete” with all the band contributing to the multi-part harmony. The two brand new songs, “I Am Snow” itself, and “Dark Eyes” came over strongly, as did the cover of Sandy Denny’s “Winter Winds”. The medley of “Winter is King” and “Day 13″ was another highlight. 2016 does seem to be the year Heather Findlay came into her own as a solo artist; there’s a new-found confidence about her performances this year.

Touchstone hit the stage with metal guitar barrage of “Flux” and proceeded to play a very hard-rocking set with a greater emphasis on shorter, punchier songs than some of their epic-laden sets of the recent past. They drew heavily from the riffy “Oceans of Time” as well including all three songs from the new EP, although they did find room for a few longer songs from earlier albums. “Half-Moon Meadow” from “The City Sleeps” turned into an extended wig-out of guitar and keyboard soloing.

Aggie’s voice has the range and power to hit all the right notes, even if she hasn’t quite got inside the songs and made them hers yet. Her stagecraft still needs work; there was very little interaction with the audience and much of the set proceeded without announcements. Much like Karnataka’s Hayley Griffiths, she comes from a background in musical theatre rather than rock, and needs time to grow into the role of rock frontwoman.

The main set ended with bombastic versions of Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” and Greg Lake’s “I Believe in Father Christmas”, before the band encored with the epic “Wintercoast” with that distinctive machine-gun bass riff, and Moo and Aggie singing Rob Cottingham’s former male lead parts in harmony. Then came the soaring title track of the new EP “Lights from the Sky” to bring the high energy set to a conclusion.

This short tour represents a new beginning for Touchstone. It’s never easy to replace a much-loved lead singer, especially when Kim Seviour’s sometimes fragile vocals and quirky stage persona were a big part of their appeal. With just three new songs from the EP, Aggie is still singing a set made up largely of older songs written for a different singer, and to some extent the new-look band is still a work in progress. Like Karnataka (twice!) and Mostly Autumn, a new lineup with a new lead singer often comes into its own once they have a substantial amount of new material to perform live. With a new album “Dangerous Days” due in 2017 the best of the new Touchstone is surely yet to come.

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Best Albums of 2016 – Not only but also

Under my own self-imposed rules, only full-length albums made up wholly or largely of new material quality for the album rundown. But amongst the live albums, EPs and records comprising largely of reworkings of older material can be found some gems that deserve better than being overlooked. It’s not in any way a definitive list, since there’s a whole slew of live albums released in the run-up to Christmas that I have yet to hear.

The Heather Findlay Band – I Am Snow

i-am-snowThe former Mostly Autumn lead singer’s second album of 2016 celebrates the semi-acoustic folk-rock side of her music, combining new songs with reworkings of older numbers, with arrangements emphasising flute and harp. There’s a beautiful cover of Sandy Denny’s “Winter Winds”, and the two new songs, especially the seasonal title track, are gorgeous.

King Crimson – Live in Toronto

king-crimson-live-on-torontoA live snapshot of the latest incarnation of the legendary progressive rock band from their 2015 tour with a setlist combining brand new material alongside classics from the 60s, 70s and beyond. The seven-piece band including Tony Levin, saxophonist Mel Collins and no fewer than three drummers creatively re-imagine the older material while remaining faithful to the spirit, and the largely instrumental new numbers are impressive too. A great document from a tour that was memorable for all the right reasons.

Riverside – Eye of the Soundscape

riverside-eye-of-the-soundscapePoland’s finest band released this ambient and largely electronic album to commemorate guitarist Piotr Grudziński, who died suddenly and unexpectedly early in the year. It’s a compilation of remixes and previously-released bonus material complemented by four completely new tracks, At times the shimmering electronic arpeggios and electronic pulsings are to Tangerine Dream what Riverside’s more guitar-based music was to Porcupine Tree, but as always they’ve far more than copyists.

Touchstone – Lights in the Sky

touchstone-lights-from-the-skyThis four track EP is first release by the new-look Touchstone with Aggie on vocals and Liam Holmes on keys. It’s a move away from the pared-back approach of “Oceans of Time”, with big guitars and soaring vocal lines, but the sound is still clearly identifiable as Touchstone, and they’re sounding like a coherent band in what is clearly a new beginning for the band.

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Touchstone – Lights from the Sky

touchstone-lights-from-the-skyAfter a spectacular farewell gig at Leamington Spa last November, the previous incarnation of Touchstone split three ways. Keyboard player and original founder launched a new project, Cairo, who released their début album “Say” in September. Meanwhile frontwoman Kim Seviour embarked on a solo career, releasing a cover of Astralasia’s “Fantasise to Realise” as a single, with an album projected for release in some time in 2017.

The three remaining members, bassist Paul “Moo Bass” Moorghen, guitarist Adam Hodgson and drummer Henry Rogers regrouped to put together a new Touchstone, as was always the intention. They recruited first Polish-born singer Aggie then keyboardist Liam Holmes to complete the lineup. The four track EP “Lights from the Sky” is the first release for the new-look band.

The resulting sound is a move away from the pared-back approach of “Oceans of Time”, with big guitars and soaring vocal lines. Aggie’s vocal approach doesn’t have the distinctive fragility Kim Seviour displayed at times, but the three new songs here do make full use of her range and power. Adam Hodgson’s guitar dominates the sound with an emphasis on riffs and melodic fills rather than extended solo wig-outs; “Tangled Lines” in particular opens with a monstrous metal riff. Liam’s Holmes keys, in contrast, play more of a supporting role, adding additional colours.

After the three new songs, the final track on the EP is an alternative version of the title track sung in Aggie’s native Polish, something which in itself could be thought of as a political statement in these times.

The final album by the previous incarnation had a lot of great and interestingly new musical ideas, but there were times where it didn’t quite feel like the whole band were on the same page musically. With this EP, even with just three new songs they’re sounding like a coherent band again. Taken as a whole, it’s got the right balance of old and new; the sounds is still recognisable as Touchstone, but it’s a fresh take on that sound, and clearly a new beginning for the band. It will be interesting to see where they go next.

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Lonely Robot, Touchstone and Ghost Community for Trinity 2

Trinity Live 2 Poster

After the success of Trinity Live in 2014, the all-day progressive rock charity show at Leamington Assembly, they’re doing it again. This year’s bash wil feature Ghost Community, Touchstone and Lonely Robot, with more acts to be announced.

“It is with great pride and excitement we can announce, in association with Prog! magazine that Trinity will be back with a bang on Saturday 27thMay 2017. Put the date in your diaries folks and get ready to rock in support of some fantastic causes!

The venue will again be The Assembly in Leamington Spa. We have the lineup complete and we have many special events going on throughout the day. The day will be split in to 3 parts – the afternoon session, the evening session and the after show.

We are also delighted to announce that the headline act will be the amazing Lonely Robot. This is an exclusive as it will be first public performance of the all new, yet to be released, Lonely Robot II album. As many of you know, their performance in London in December 2015 was a sell out and featured a fantastic stage show. This full production will also be brought to the Trinity stage. To top it off, we can also announce that Touchstone and Ghost Community, will be part of the evening session. Three rocking bands to get you dancing in the aisles.
The afternoon bands will be announced very soon. The after show party will have a very special guest live performance plus one of Jerry Ewing’s infamous DJ sets. A fantastic way to end a fantastic day with the bands and the organisers! Jerry will have you bouncing around that dance floor, we promise.

With your amazing support, the first Trinity show enabled the organisers to donate £12,000 amongst three cancer charities, and next year we want to smash that figure out of the ball park. Each and everyone of us has been exposed to someone who has dealt with cancer so let’s pull together and help raise some serious money to allow amazing organisations to fight this vile disease.

Get them while they’re hot and please, let’s light up social media and make this an event that will shine brightly for years to come and which will continue to raise more money, every year it takes place. Through music, through love, through adversity, together we can all make a real different”

It it’s anything like as good as the last one, this will be a show well worth seeing. And it’s all in a good cause.

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Touchstone announce Lights From The Sky EP

touchstone-lights-from-the-skyTouchstone announce their new EP “Lights From The Sky”, released on November 28, and available for pre-order now from The Merch Desk.

Starting a new chapter in the band’s story, this will be their first release to feature new vocalist Aggie Figurska and keyboard player Liam Holmes, and its four tracks include both English and Polish language versions of the title track.

And here”s a very brief teaser for the EP

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Touchstone Tour News

Touchstone have announced that Liam Holmes will be guesting on keys for their three Christmas shows at St Helens, The Borderline in London, and Bilston Robin 2.

The Heather Findlay band playing as an acoustic trio with Martin Ledger and Sarah Dean will be the support for all three dates, which Ghost Community also appearing on the bill for the final show at Bilston Robin 2.

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Rob Cottingham announces Cairo

CairoFormer Touchstone keyboardist and songwriter Rob Cottingham has formally announced his new band Cairo:

After what I can only describe as amazing support from the industry, I am proud and delighted to announce my new band, CAIRO.

The band comprises Rachel Hill on vocals; James Hards on guitars; Paul Stocker on bass, Graham Brown on drums and myself on vocals and keys.

I was after a new sound with the same sensibilities as in my previous writing but with heavier passages, as well as more ambient, electronic soundscapes – plus more time spent on crafting the blend of male and female vocals within the overall production of the music.

We have just recorded our debut album “Say” at Outhouse Studios, with the mighty John Mitchell (It Bites, Frost*, Lonely Robot, Arena) at the helm, and we will be releasing the album in October. Album launch shows are scheduled in the UK for November with our special guests, Luna Rossa.”

The band have announced three live dates in November, in London, at the CRS in Rotherham, and in Leicester.

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Touchstone announce new singer

After months of teasers and speculation, Touchstone have announced Polish-born Aggie as their new lead singer. She has a background in musical theatre, having performed in productions of Phantom of the Opera, so fronting a rock band will be something of a change in direction.

The band plan to release a double A-side single in the coming months, with the album “Dangerous Days” due in the new year. She will be making her live debut with the band in December with dates at The Borderline in London, The Robin 2 in Bilston, and a third venue yet to be announced.

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Touchstone return!

Touchstone anniunce their return to the live stage with two dates in December 2016, at London’s Borderline on Saturday 17th, and Bilston Robin 2 the following night.

The latest update from the via Touchstone Facebook Page sents the message that things are heading in the right direction.

Little update from TSHQ, alls moving in the right direction, keyboards finally in place and sounds STUNNING… lead female vocals getting there and a few things to sort but again in the right direction. Great keys, bass, guitar writing session last Wednesday and the arrangement for the song we are working on is in place, next week will be worked up with the full band. The older tracks are sounding great also, with some new twists and really looking at getting all the little bits not heard before live on these new versions… Website in good shape for launch and we hope to be able to make an official announcement in the press soon. The REDHEAD has requested by pain of death that no demos slip out so max impact on launch… however the next teaser will appear on YouTube soon… TSXX

At the moment the identity of enigmatic REDHEAD remains a closely-guarded secret. Is it the new singer, or is it a reference to the sinister-looking mascot on the Touchstone Web Page?

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