I arrive at a hearteningly lively Academy in time to catch the last few numbers by London trio, Beasts – a new one on me. Their brand of dark and dramatic hard rock seems to go down well with the crowd and I can tell their songs are built for mass appeal, having strong harmonies atop the riffing, the songs being compact and easily digestible without any overtly weird or aggressive
bits to frighten off Radio 1 listeners. However, I’m afraid I found it hard to concentrate on them as I took an instant and violent dislike to the bass players hair and caught myself staring at it wishing I’d bought my clippers.
It’s not long before Turbowolf come storming on and it’s pretty evident this is one beast that is much changed since I last caught them at The Garage. A U.S. Tour on the back of the very well received “Two Hands” album finds the band brimming with confidence and lead singer Chris Georgiadis is a much more exuberant front man. So excitable is he that his between song banter comes across like Jools Holland on a barrel full of amphetamines. The band genuinely seem delighted to be playing such a large and receptive London crowd, and for me it has a mildly detrimental effect on their performance.
Things start a little low key, but the fun really starts with second number ‘Rabbits Foot’ – which causes a mass surge down the front
and suddenly a large portion of the crowd is going batshit crazy! A healthy sized pit remains for the rest of the night, with moshing, chanting and pogoing aplenty. Georgiadis even organises a conga line at one point. It’s great to see the band picking up a hardcore following of young rock fans.
We are treated to set containing all the highlights from the bands two albums, and there’s enough good tunes across those so that the band no longer resort to playing covers of Jefferson Airplane or Lightning Bolt to fill out an hours running time. And whilst the bands songs retain that strange blend of 70’s trippiness and leftfield hardcore aggression in a live setting Turbowolf very much lean towards the latter. Tracks like ‘American Mirrors’ and ‘Let’s Die’ lose nothing in this approach and are enjoyable headbanging stuff, but the bands more nuanced and experimental numbers are largely under-sold by a too hectic delivery.
Some songs from ”Two Hands” are still of such quality that they cannot be totally crushed under the bands bulldozering style, with ‘Solid Gold’ and the magnificent ‘Rich Gift’ (with guest vocals by Oya of Vodun adding spirit and soul) are triumphant celebrations of the bands talents.
Those obvious talents mean I have long been a champion of Turbowolf, so I may be being a tad hard on them tonight – certainly everyone one around me is blown away by the bands enthusiasm and attack, Turbowolf certainly lived up to their name tonight in a concert of maximum tempo and aggression. For me though, if they are to run with the big dogs of the pack then they may need to inject a bit more of the variation and flair from their studio work into their live performances.