This was originally a secret gig, available only to those who ordered the planned Source Years vinyl box set. Unfortunately the box set was cancelled, but Clare and I re-purchased gig tickets and took a trip to the capital.
Turin Brakes have been one of my favourite bands since The Optimist LP was released in 2001. I own an extensive collection of Turin Brakes vinyl & CDs (68 items according to my discogs page) and had seen them live 15 times before this gig. Clare came down the aisle to Fishing for a Dream and one of our wedding tables was named after The Optimist LP. What I’m trying to emphasise here is that I’m a big fan of this band. So is Clare. The reason that’s so important is that I need to stress how good this gig truly was. Despite a strong sense of loyalty and emotional attachment to this band, I feel I can reasonably say that this is probably the best gig I’ve ever been to.
We weren’t quite sure what to expect from a “secret gig”. The doors were at 7.30pm and for the first time ever, we actually arrived a little early and queued outside on Oxford Street (in front of Ann Summers, no less). That meant that we got right to the front, centre stage, where Olly’s mike was set-up.
The beer was great, if not eye wateringly priced (but then it was London). I had 3 nice pints of Brewdog: Dead Pony Club Session Pale Ale.
The venue was small a wide, with the widest stage I’ve ever seen in a venue of this size. 300 capacity, apparently, and this place certainly has some history.
The support came from Tom Speight. Tom gave a great performance, spending one song amongst the crowd bathed in smartphone lights.
Turin Brakes wasted no time coming to the stage after Tom departed. What followed was a truly tremendous Source Years spanning setlist. We’d been promised a set composed of songs from the first 4 albums and we weren’t disappointed. The setlist was stuck on the monitor just in front of me, so I was trying to make sure I wasn’t looking as I didn’t really want spoilers! They opened with a rip-roaring version of Blue Hour and didn’t let up from there. The band seemed happy to be playing a great mix of songs which included many, that I suspect, they haven’t played in a fair while. They played 6 from both The Optimist LP and Ether Song, 5 from JackInABox, 2 from Dark On Fire and 1 surprise new one.
They joked well with the audience throughout, suggesting they probably knew everyone there. Midway through the set, Gale took lead vocal on Full of Stars (from Ether Song) and much amusement followed as after an aborted start, Gale noted that he’d forgotten the first line. It was proposed that someone check the awesome fan made Ether Site for the lyrics, but the right ones eventually flowed.
Forever was noted as several couples wedding songs (someone behind us shouted that it was theirs) and the guys noted that Future Boy was written when they were 16! My personal highlights from the main set were; Dark On Fire, State of Things, Last Chance, Fishing for a Dream and Feeling Oblivion. After playing 14 classics, they went off for a very brief break before the first encore. Red Moon, Rain City and Underdog (Save Me)…wow! Another encore followed with them playing Ether Song, before giving the crowd a taste of things to come. The new song was called Tomorrow and sounded great – it had a pop feel to it in the vein of Keep Me Around. The closer, Slack, meant we were guaranteed to be sent home happy.
Why was this my favourite gig?
- An amazing setlist spanning some of my favourite albums
- Live performances of TB songs that I haven’t heard in a long time (if at all)
- A band that seemed like they were having a great time
- An audience that definitely was
- An intimate venue with great acoustics
- Front row position throughout with my beautiful wife
- Setlist, signed posters and a picture with the band
Essentially this was a culmination of 16 years investment in a band that I love. I could think of no better way to spend a Saturday night.
Merch: They had vinyl copies of JackInABox on sale on the merch store which was typical as I recently picked up a second hand version of that. I picked up a couple of posters of the most recent albums and Clare (being the brilliant wife she is) got them signed for me and asked Gale if we could grab a quick photo. I bussled my way passed the crowds and got a great photo. Olly complimented my Ether Song t-shirt (it’s still in top condition considering it’s about 14 years old) and I proceeded to make a cringeworthy comment, repeating a recent twitter reply I’d sent to him about Shaun of the Dead. Oh well, that was the only thing that I’ll regret in an amazing night that will live long in my memory.
Thank you Olly, Gale, Eddie & Rob for a fantastic night. Turin Brakes deserve a bigger audience, but Clare and I felt privileged to be part of a small one on Saturday night. Well worth a trip to London.
— Chris Williams (@cwblueroom) April 29, 2017
The offending cringeworthy Twitter banter. Fine in tweet form, but why I felt the need to repeat it is beyond me. Olly gave it the response it deserved *brief pause* “nice”.