Live Reviews

The Twang @ Academy, Birmingham

25 October 2007

Think of the blokiest gig in the world. Multiply it by ten and you’ll have some kind of idea of the atmosphere awaiting The Twang. The place is full to bursting with blokey blokes shouting blokey chants about their favourite blokey band. There are about three females in amongst them. A McFly gig, this ain’t.

This is the kind of crowd The Twang attract. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that, and they seem quite comfortable with it. It suggests that the music is all one dimensional lairiness, though, which does it a bit of a disservice. Sure, they’re hardly Radiohead, but underneath the moronic boasts in interviews of chasing enemies with samurai swords, there’s a soft centre to these lads.

Songs like set opener The Neighbour don’t help. A foolish, unsavoury account of the ‘treatment’ a neighbour gets for complaining about the noise, it does them no favours. It also goes a long way to explaining the football hooligan tone of the evening.

Compare that, however, to the majestic anthem Either Way, almost tossed away three songs in. It’s an anthem of the kind Oasis knock out every now and again, and almost justifies some of the hype heaped upon them. It’s also remarkably unladdish, which is probably why it’s so good. When frontman Phil Etheridge screams “I love ya!”, only the stoniest of hearts could fail to be moved.

Set closer Wide Awake scales similar heights, and while there is little in between to match these twin peaks, Phil Etheridge and co. clearly have the talent to write formidable pop songs. If only they’d forget about trying to impress their lairy fans, more people might take them seriously.

Ultimately, everything else played tonight is much of a muchness, descending into a sub-baggy mush. As with most new bands, The Twang have a couple of excellent songs and a few average ones. They’re all met with a relentless adulation, but considering the amount of alcohol consumed tonight, Etheridge could sing nursery rhymes and no-one would care.

This is a homecoming gig, and the band seem genuinely proud to be returning home having ‘made it’. Birmingham it seems, or at least 2000 of its residents, are proud of them too. As ever, the dreaded second album will determine whether they can last the distance. I think they’ll be OK. Just don’t expect them to reinvent the wheel.

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