Saturday, 24 November 2012

Work Those Guns - This Town Needs Guns Live Review

This Town Needs Guns *****
The Bronze Medal ***1/2**
Polio *****

The Borderline,  2nd November 2012

Polio *****
First up tonight are the marvelously distastefully monikered Polio. A fiery, feisty bunch of noiseniks who serve up a snakebite of mathy indie alt jollity. There are moments of Brontide tied to the buttocks of Arcane Roots choppiness and riffage with a pop punky harcore aftertaste. All tetchy and tecchy riddled with aggressive shouty, sweary vox. And a cowbell. Maybe just need a more melodic reference point here and there as a shot of blackcurrant to ease the jagged taste. But mildly intoxicating nonetheless.

The Bronze Medal ***1/2**
No need for a backdrop in the now rammed Soho subterranean gloom as the next band of troubadours bring a living wall of plaid onto the stage. Oh, and beards. Looking like the bastard chimera offspring of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, the front row of a Nirvana gig, Millets window and a Shoreditch speakeasy clientele, they saunter onto the stage almost apologetically as chief plaid bloke fires up a wooden harmonium looking thing in a box and we’re off.

And a more diametrically opposed offering to the lads of Polio you couldn’t dream of. Smooth, tasty post rock with swelling layers and gallons of creamy harmonies and plaintive mournfulness. A delicious mélange of Yndi Helda and Oceansize with dollops of Crosby Stills and Nash and Orb-like ambience. A thoroughly yummy and indulgent Radox bath. And, thankfully, in no way boring.

Plaid? Check.
Initially, when I saw the plaid, beards and the wooden harmonium looking thing in a box, I feared we were in for yet another nu-folkcore/nu-country shoe-gazing torture session (Dry The River, you know who you are!!!), but we’re mercifully spared the new mellowbandwagon and while never raising the crowd’s perspiration level or heartbeat too much, the West Country boys’ hypnotic and mellow dreaminess hits the spot perfectly. Gert lush.

This Town Needs Guns *****

After creating a stage set from Blake’s Seven (one for the kids there) with their stunning array of bespoke white cubes all arranged at doubtlessly scientifically determined precise jaunty angles, before TTNG even create a sound, tonight just feels other worldly.

Shorn down and reinvented as a trio, with the introduction of Henry Tremain as vocalist and all round musical show-off joining the brothers Collis, there’s a definite air of edgy anticipation in the sold out cellar. Will they be as good? Can three really replace more?

Tremain, armed with what looks like a 6 string baritone guitar stands cheerfully at the back of the stage next to his personal sci-fi set of speakers and kicks us off into the mesmerizing Chinchilla. All doubts, if indeed there truly were any, instantly evaporate like a rare gas. The new boy done good. Effortlessly filling Stu Smith’s vocal and Jamie Cooper’s fat stringed shoes in one fell swoop.

The sound is absolutely astonishing. Those white cubes have strong magic within. And, as always, Tim Collis’s unparalleled tapping, sliding, hammering, tickling, caressing and stimulating leaves jaws dropped and eyes popped from the venue’s writhing front to its backpipe.

Collis is in a wonderful world of his own. Like some sort of an autistic über-genius. In a bubble. Deliriously happy. Smiling. Loving it. And the sounds that emanate from his array of Telecasters pimped and modified with all manner of capos and alien tunings defy comparison. 

Arpeggios, syncopation, insane time signatures and seemingly mathematically and physically impossible progressions provide the most wonderful swirling, intoxicating and bewildering soundscape for the whispy and light alto vocals and sumptuous melodies. All welded together by the most ridiculously tight and intricate drumming of his bro Chris, delivered almost laconically and apparently effortlessly.

Ok, it’s been said before, and it’s somewhat inevitable; but when a truly original sound or style of playing is alchemically created, there is obviously going to be a risk of everything sounding too samey. There are undeniably moments in TTNG’s offering that clearly play in the same areas and Collis’s unique and amazing style does inevitably dictate the sound. But it’s a cod and specious criticism. Mr The Edge while fucking around with many racks, boxes, pedals and set ups is instantly identifiable (sorry to mention U2, spit, cough, splutter – it’s only to make a clumsy point). Hell, Vivaldi’s pretty much immediately taggable. As are Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Stanley Jordan, Rory Gallagher and even Tony Iommi.

And TTNG are no different. They’re defining a sound. Owning it. Creating it. And tonight, it’s goosebump-inducingly brilliant. True virtuosity but with delicious songcraft and melodic beauty. The new tunes, including the fabulous Cat Fantastic sound huge and whet the appetite even more for the forthcoming new long player.

This lot are truly original. Beyond definition or even comparison. Certainly above simplistic categorisation. There are post-rock moments. Definite mathy bits. Proggy overtones. Jazzy and classical constructs. But on the whole, you just have to settle for delightful, delicious and definitely one of the gigs of the year.

Oh, and they even did a spine-tingly unplugged, un-amped sit down acoustic coda at the end with the whole venue sitting like dutiful kids at school assembly.

Deaf Havana’s sold out Shepherds Bush show next.

More tunes soon. Bwoooar!

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