Live Music + Gig Reviews

The Twang @ Barfly, Liverpool

20 March 2007

The Twang

The Twang

“Oi, it were a bi’ Libertines there when Martin passed me the mic, worn’t it?” Phil Etheridge says in his thick Black Country accent. “If I’d ‘av curloi ‘air and that, I coulda been cool there for a minute!” The Twang’s sold old crowd, largely full of lads with said curloi ‘air chortles.

It’s a moot point, for whilst these chancers from Wolverhampton initially appear to have as much in common with Klaxons as Pete Doherty has with sobriety, they share an over-riding desire to wipe away the last dregs of The Libs’ legacy.

Both camps certainly draw upon Britain’s increasingly mythic rave culture, but evoke opposite ends of the spectrum. But that seems to be where the similarities end. Whilst the so-called new rave bands evoke the technological innovation of rave by mashing up a whole range of dance and guitar music, The Twang appear intent on a pain-staking recreation of the sound of The Farm.

Now as much as we all like Groovy Train, is this really the stuff of the Best New Band In Britain (thank you NME)? A rush to don the Emperor’s New Clothes can surely be the only explanation for the ridiculous hype surrounding The Twang, and the reception they stoke from tonight’s sold out crowd.

It surely can’t be the music or charisma on offer? If you’ve heard their new single Wide Awake then you’ve got a clear idea of The Twang’s template. The rest of their set here merely mooches round variations of the same theme, with the omnipresent All Together Now guitar sound ‘soaring’ around an admittedly solid, if entirely anonymous, rhythm section. If you think Wide Awake is great, then this is obviously a good thing, but to us it sounds pretty pants – baggy pants.

Twin singers Etheridge and Martin Saunders carry the weight of the live performance, or rather Etheridge does. Saunders appears to be there for only two reasons; to tunelessly wail over the tracks every now and again, and to generally gurn around acting like he’ necked a bag of Mick Mills.

Unfortunately Etheridge’s voice isn’t great either, and his lyrics are generally summed up with the opening two songs chorus, “I said ‘Oi!’ and ‘Just do one!'” Some have compared him to fellow Midlander Mike Skinner, but his tales from the ‘Let’s get some Gianluca! pub-culture carries none of the wit or invention of The Streets. It is no coincidence though that The Twang sound at their best during Streets-esque Either Way and Chips ‘n’ Gravy, both of which feature Etheridge talking over more bitter-sweet backings.

These are rare high points from an otherwise uninspiring set though. Towards the end Saunders, clad in a Doherty endorsed Gio-Goi T-Shirt, hugs Etheridge in the centre of the stage, seemingly overcome with how unbelievably jammy they’ve been to find themselves in such exalted circumstances. It’s a telling image: Phil ‘n’ Mart, the new idiot-savant Pete ‘n’ Carl for the ‘avin it masses.

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