Chris Booth, wrote a review about the Cadogan Hall, London gig on 15th February 2008.
Turin Brakes at Cadogan Hall, 15th February
We probably all have our own opinions on where the band’s strengths lie in their studio material, but I don’t think any Turin Brakes fan would argue that their live performances are anything less than excellent. I was drawn to the Cadogan Hall concert having seen them at the Hammersmith Apollo in 2003 and being completely blown away. The acoustics of the theatre venue took that performance to another level. Hearing Ether Song there was one of the best moments of my life. Olly’s voice carried so much power I swear I could physically feel it. So I was naturally very optimistic!
And for me, the evening became very special even before the band came out. Always curious to check out the merchandise stand, I ambled over to see that next to the usual tour t-shirts were some absolute treasures. The first was a beautiful limited edition screen print, each hand-signed by the band and limited to only 200 (I got number 5!). I’m reliably informed that original screen prints are quite expensive, so the GBP10 price tag was an absolute bargain. Also for sale were copies of The Optimist LP on vinyl, which I’m sure is long out of print. But what really knocked me out was The Door EP. Anyone who’s come to the band since about 2001 would probably agree that it’s really hard to find if you don’t fancy paying upwards of GBP60. So it was very nice to find they were charging only GBP8. They could easily have charged three times that and they still would have sold, so it really felt like they were benefiting the fans and not simply cashing in. So thanks!
At half past eight the bell donged and we filtered into the auditorium. I think a lot of people prefer standing to sitting at concerts, but I’m ashamed to say I like to sit down. So it was nice having some comfort and space to relax and really concentrate on listening to the music and watching the band. The boys came out to a good cheer and launched into Future Boy.
I’d like to stop for a second at this point and mention the band’s sound. I think they perform their best with the distortion down and the drums brushed. They’re a powerful band, and for me the distortion and the clattering drums drown out that power. They mentioned that they were playing an instrumentally barer set to suit the venue, and they kept the clatter down and let the songs fill the room. Olly sang Future Boy pretty much on his own, with very minimal backing, and it really worked. It was clear straight away that this was going to be a beautiful concert.
Stone Thrown and Real Life followed, and both were spot on. Olly told us that the band were still suffering from a cold, but I have to say I never noticed. They seemed in really high spirits, and joked and played with the crowd between almost every song. After seeing The Smashing Pumpkins the night before in Nottingham and witnessing Billy Corgan’s temper tantrum, refusing to speak to the crowd except to complain and then cutting the set short by a third without so much as a ‘thank you and good night’, it felt really good to know that the band were pleased to be there, and pleased that we were there with them. Just a bunch of people having a good time.
The band then went through The Door, Fishing For A Dream and Other Side, before playing a rousing and fun Everready, which they asked the crowd to clap along to. After Painkiller they played their version of Wicked Game, which I had been really looking forward to hearing live, and I was not disappointed at all. It was stunning. (Now if only they’d start playing Nessun Dorma…)
They followed with lovely moody versions of Dark On Fire and one of my very favourite songs, Rain City. Feeling Oblivion got a sizeable cheer from the audience, followed by Something In My Eye. Ghost is a song that they’ve always seemed to really enjoy playing live, stretching it out and jamming on it, and tonight was no exception. They closed a very strong main set with Mind Over Money and left to loud cheers.
After a short wait they came back and Olly made all my dreams come true as he started to play By TV Light. I’ve never heard it live before, and I was speechless. Apart from Nine to Five, it’s the song I’ve most wanted to hear live. Since they broke into it pretty much straight away it took a minute for the chatting and milling about to die down, but by the end of the song everyone was silently staring at Olly’s captivating performance. They followed with Underdog, which had an extended jammy intro, and closed the first encore with a nice loud Long Distance.
By the time the band came back for the second encore quite a few people had left for some reason, so they played New Star to a slightly emptier hall. Again, it was a beautiful performance. Olly’s voice seemed to come at me from every direction. It was the perfect song for the venue. When he sang ‘wait for the clear air’ I think the whole room shivered. The last song of the night was Emergency 72, and the band were gone, leaving me glowing and completely satisfied. (My girlfriend also managed to swipe me a setlist – hooray!)
I think of all the Turin Brakes gigs I’ve seen it was my favourite. Everything about it seemed to be – it’s a lame word I realise – special. It was perfect. I really wish I could have stayed in London another night for the next gig but trains were already booked before they announced the second night (boo). It would have been really good to hear Ether Song, and also New Star without microphones, but I’m very happy with what I got. Absolutely amazing.
Keep doing it lads!