LIVE: Turbowolf – Academy 3, Manchester 09/03/2018
It’s a tricky Friday night to be drawing a crowd in Manchester. It’s raining yet again, and competition is hot, with Blaze Bayley playing downstairs in Manchester Academy and the erstwhile Massive Wagons laying waste to Rebellion just up the road. Nevertheless, the lure of the bizarre has ensured that a hearty throng have headed up to Academy 3, ready to be pulverised by Bristol psych-rockers Turbowolf.
Opening things up tonight are Big Spring, and the Brighton four-piece deliver an interesting enough set of grunge-tinged alt-rock. There’s not a huge amount of crowd engagement from their top-knotted lead singer, but a track off their debut EP gets some heads nodding and it’s a decent start to the evening’s events.
As Puppy enter the fray, it suddenly feels like Bristol circa 1995; the place is dotted with Stussy tees and rolled up combat trousers so it’s apt that the baseball-capped trio are here with their slightly throwback metallic groove. Three barrier-based punters bang their heads in sync from the off as vocalist/guitarist Jock Norton lays down the riffs and bassist Will Michael’s long-fingered fret work becomes more and more intricate. The band show hints of Slayer and Korn with some Royal Blood groove thrown in, all overlaid by Norton’s Mike Patton-esque whine that makes Puppy an eminently likeable proposition, refusing to be knocked off course even when persistent drum issues cause one song to be completely restarted.
Excitement builds as we await the entrance of Turbowolf, and the mix of people in attendance is testament to the band’s crossover appeal. Students mingle with Motörhead t-shirted veterans. Dads take in a between-bands bag of crisps as they keep a watchful eye over their offspring; there’s even a four year old girl with ear defenders perched on a stool down the front ready for the barrage to come.
And it’s a pretty triumphant barrage too. No matter how many times it happens it’s always odd yet immensely pleasing to see big crowds turn out for bands you’ve previously watched in tiny venues playing second fiddle to the likes of Dinosaur Pile-Up or Viking Skull, but tonight is very much Turbowolf’s night. Singer Chris Georgiadis is resplendent in a sequinned jacket and a ‘MURICA! MTV t-shirt as he starts to shake his hips to new set-opener Capital X taken from the band’s latest album, The Free Life, and considering most punters could only have heard the record, released this very day, a few hours earlier, it’s incredible to see everyone throw themselves in from the start.
The more familiar American Mirrors is up next, with drummer Blake Davies setting its breakneck pace and giving the crowd something to go suitably bonkers to before new track Cheap Magic slides in effortlessly, ahead of a rendition of Solid Gold so bouncy it threatens to crack the floor. There might not be any of the recent album’s guest singers in attendance tonight, but guitarist Andy Ghosh and bassist Lianna Lee Davies do a sterling job filling in on backing vocals as well as nailing every pounding riff and hypnotic bassline to boot.
Stalwart songs Ancient Snake, The Big Cut and Good Hand sandwich an absolutely riotous Domino, whilst Very Bad is also brilliantly received, taking its place as a rightful successor to Seven Severed Heads when it comes to flailing limbs in the pit. The spaghetti western intro to A Rose For The Crows gives us time for a brief breath, but it’s only a short respite ahead of Rabbit’s Foot and the already-classic The Good Life, which features a chorus to die for. Georgiadis spins from vocals to synths and back like a spring-heeled one man band as the song reaches its maelstrom of a climax, and there are high fives for the front row as its closing notes rumble out.
But that’s sadly it, and the lack of encore gets a tongue-in-cheek boo as the lights go up. Nevertheless, for the first night of a tour and with their latest album only released the same day, Turbowolf have gotten their 2018 activities off to an absolutely stunning start.