Having championed Bristol quartet Turbowolf since first seeing them support Black Spiders in early 2011 at Manchester’s Roadhouse, I feel a great sense of pride seeing the band finally – and quite rightfully – take to the stage on their first headline tour (their words, not mine; I always considered last year’s co-headline tour with Hawk Eyes as first and foremost a Turbowolf show. Well, they came on last anyway – that’s my logic and I’m sticking to it).
Not that I can at all lay claim to any of the band’s success – them playing to a packed-out Garage is all down to hard work, relentless touring, and a flawless self-titled album that came so close to being my number one pick of 2011 (if it wasn’t for those pesky Mastodon kids). But, as they look out across the sweaty, heaving mass of people in front of them cheering their name as they draw their set to a close, with a look in their eyes that broadcasts for all to see their obvious glee at being up there on stage, you’ve got to be one miserable sod not to feel totally elated for the guys.
The rapturous reception they receive is totally warranted, as the band have just played the gig of their lives. Having been ably supported by Leeds-based five-piece Black Moth – who bring with them riffs groovy and slab-heavy enough to give the likes of The Sword or Red Fang a run for the money – with Throne and Wet Nuns making up the rest of the undercard (both of whom sadly, I missed), Turbowolf stride out on stage to greet the baying horde, and as the glowing King Tut head at the back of the stage throbs away under the UV lights, the band fly into their set, and don’t let up until it’s over.
It’s an all too brief affair, clocking in at around the 45-minute mark, though with just one album – but what an album – and a recently released covers EP to work with, the band’s set still consists of about 90% of their entire canon thus far. For those unfamiliar with the band – for shame! – theirs is a wholly unique sound, melding garage rock, punk, electronica and psychedelia, with the occasional Theremin solo and lashings of lyrical mysticism thrown in for good measure. If you think that sounds a little eccentric, then you’d be absolutely right, but my word does it sound good.
There’s no room for the two or three slower tunes the band have in their arsenal; tonight, it’s wall-to-wall bangers only. From the opening notes of the aptly-titled ‘Introduction’, the sea of bodies starts to sway and heads begin to bang, and as the night progresses, there’s seldom time to breath as one riotous slab of punk rock effortlessly slides into another. The likes of ‘Ancient Snake’, ‘Seven Severed Heads’, ‘Bag ‘O Bones’, ‘The Big Cut’, ‘A Rose for the Crows’ and ‘Read + Write’ are huge tunes by anyone’s standards, but to have all of these on your debut album is bordering on ridiculous. That’s not to mention the rapid-fire ‘Things Could Be Good Again’, which gets as big a mosh pit as I’ve seen at a Turbowolf gig, their frantic covers of Lightning Bolt’s ‘Captain Caveman’ and Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody to Love’, and lest I forget, the band’s anthemic and electro-tinged perennial closing number ‘Let’s Die’.
I could go on, though any more gushing about the ‘Wolf could be construed as bordering on stalking; suffice it to say that tonight, the band more than proved that they are, without a doubt, the most exciting prospect in British rock music. It really is that simple. The sad thing about tonight is that it marks the end of the band’s touring cycle, with the band heading back into the studio to record that “difficult second album” (though judging by the one new song the band drop tonight, it’ll be less “difficult” and more “fuggin’ brilliant”). Though a new Turbowolf record is an incredibly tantalising prospect, the fact that we likely won’t get to see the band grace a stage for some time is an incredibly depressing thought.