I’ll start this review with the disclaimer that Turin Brakes are one of my favourite bands. They have been since I purchased The Optimist LP, on the recommendation of a friend (a gigamonth alumni, Andrew), back in September 2001. They are my most watched band by quite some distance. This was the 17th gig of theirs that I’ve seen (including only 3 festivals) which is a nice average of 1 a year since that first album purchase! They have been the subject of three previous blog appearances (100 Club, The Cluny, Chase Park Festival) and so are now the most mentioned band on this blog. I’ve only been to one previous gig at the Tyne Theatre…Turin Brakes. Back in 2002 on the 25th September: The Acoustic Tour. That gig was fantastic, enhanced by support from the excellent Fionn Regan.
Present: Ste & Amy, Clare & I. Andrew had a ticket, but unfortunately couldn’t make it.
With the wives present, babysitting was a challenge, so there was no pre-gig social. Clare & I managed a swift drink, but by the time Ste & Amy arrived Eliza Shaddad was about to take the stage.
I enjoyed Eliza’s set. I wasn’t too familiar with any of the tracks, except the excellent set closer, Waters. I’ll certainly be looking out for a future album.
The new album, Invisible Storm, came out earlier this year and is a superbly catchy long player. Tracks from this album were the common thread through the night as they played 7 of the 11 tracks on it. A huge 5 tracks were played from The Optimist LP, 2 each from Ether Song & Lost Property and 1 each from Dark On Fire & JackInABox. Two albums weren’t represented as there was no room for tracks from either Outbursts or We Were Here.
We were sat on the front row of this incredibly atmospheric (if not slightly cold) theatre. Front row seats for one of my favourite bands. Nice. The band were in fine form once more. Again, this is a band who seem at their best when they are enjoying themselves. I can only think of a couple of times I’ve seen them when they didn’t seem up for it. This was definitely a night when they were up for it. They even played through a fight that managed to break out in an all seated venue. Yes, a fight broke out in a seated theatre venue. A Turin Brakes gig in a seated theatre venue, no less!
They opened the set with three Invisible Storm tracks and sounded incredible. Moving straight in to Future Boy and then State of Things, the pace was kept. The only real break from quality tunes was the sound of of Eddie howling, and making the audience howl, like a wolf. Slightly surreal, but fun.
Invisible Storm was probably my highlight of the night and my favourite from the new album. Last Chance, Fishing For A Dream and Rain City all sounded superb. I can’t help but smile whenever Gale plays the Underdog solo and that took us nicely into the end of the normal set. The first encore included the quality Keep Me Around, new album track – Everything All At Once and the wig-out Black Rabbit.
The lack of theatre lights held the hope of a 2nd encore. This hope was further enhanced when a disembodied thumb (belonging, I think, to Rob) started interchanging up and down from behind a curtain. The audience clearly wanted more and so, thumbs up it was. A last track from Invisible Storm; Don’t Know Much, before closing on the classic first album track; Slack. Quality from start to finish.
16 years since I last saw @turinbrakes at the @TyneOperaHouse (25/9/2002) – they were awesome then & they remain awesome now. My 17th #turinbrakes gig tonight was another fantastic one. The tunes off the new album sounded 👌🏻 #agigamonth2018 pic.twitter.com/TAf9T0WJ5t
— Chris Williams (@cwblueroom) March 12, 2018
Earlier on this year, I purchased the deluxe bundle of Invisible Storm and splashed out on a test pressing for £50! Hand signed and hand numbered – limited to 20. Only, when it arrived, I found it hadn’t been numbered. Not a huge issue for some people, but it was something that attracted me to the purchase in the first place. I got in touch with the webstore who politely informed me that the band must have forgotten to sign. Yes. I realised that. I thought I’d try the band. I got in contact via twitter and was really pleased that they replied.
So, I went to the gig armed with my test pressing and thought I’d sneak in some additional LP sleeves for them to sign. Cheeky, I know, but shy bairns…
Anyway, I wrote a lengthy note with instructions and threw a few different coloured sharpies into the bag, for them to select the appropriate colours. [Yes, I appreciate that, at this point in this blog – if not before – you are building up a very clear and accurate picture of my personality]. I rocked up to the merch stand and then was struck with a disease that has affected me for a while now. Inarticulosis. Essentially, when faced with some pressure in a possible brush with anyone even remotely famous, or a person who might be vaguely linked with a famous person, I mutter and mumble. I’m desperate to say something clear and sensible, but fail miserably (see the 100 club blog “you’ve got red on you” anecdote). This time, I muttered something about contacting the band via “The Internet”. “The Internet” – I even said it in an awkward voice – WTF. I then said, they hadn’t signed properly and said they would. I didn’t, crucially, mention a lack of numbering, but despite it being signed correctly – I decided to confuse things by mentioning signing in these verbal instructions. Fatal. Eliza Shaddad was doing the merch and therefore was the one lucky enough to be on the receiving end of my drivel. She took it well and said I could just pick up at the end of the gig.
Of course, what I failed to realise is that I should have just put one line on a post it note and attached it to the front of the vinyl – “number it out of 20 here please”. Instead, I wrote a long note! Why I thought they would read the full note or remember the twitter exchange, I don’t know! So, post gig, I picked up the bag of sleeves, thanked Eliza and trotted out. My wife encouraged me to have a look before we headed home. The band had signed the sleeve again – this time on the back – but hadn’t numbered it. I went back into the venue and Eliza was so patient with me. She went off and came back with it numbered. The band had already generously signed all of the sleeves of 7 other LPs and The Door EP 7″. I’m hugely grateful to them. A top band, top tunes, top albums and top blokes. Yep, I just used the word top 4 times in a row. I’m just that cool, as this whole episode indicates!