Turbonegro
Electric Ballroom, London (22/11/12)
Manchester Academy 3 (23/11/12)

Our man Andy Santiago seems to be a big fan of Turbonegro, so much so that he took in both their London and Manchester shows last week. Here’s what went down.

Two nights in Turbo!

It had been over a year since my last jaunt down to London village for a gig, the last time was in march 2011 to see Swedish black metal terrors Watain, so when the tour dates for Turbonegro were announced, a call to long time gig accomplice ‘Big’ Kev was made to test the water for a possible away fixture in the capital.

Not only was he agreeable but also suggested that we go to the following night of the tour in Manchester. Who was I to disagree?

It’s been a while since Turbonegro have visited these shores and a lot has gone on in the Turbo camp since then. Band members leaving, most importantly the iconic frontman Hank von Helvete and the well documented illness of guitarist Euroboy.

So, how do you replace a chubby singer with a penchant for Alice Cooper-esque eye makeup? Easy, with another chubby singer, but this time with a penchant for Little Alex Clockwork Orange-esque eye make up in the form of Tony “The Duke of Nothing” Sylvester. It was a tall order replacing Hank, would he be up to the job? For me, the answer is a resounding “Yes”.

The latest album ‘Sexual Harassment’ was given a thorough listening to and in my opinion, it’s the best thing Turbonegro have released since the classic ‘Apocalypse Dudes’ from 1998.

Anyway, on to the gigs. After perusing some of the more insalubrious hostelries Camden Town has to offer we strolled into the venue to find something of a sparse attendance. Not a great start. Tonight’s support was to be a DJ set from Radio 1 Rock Show presenter and Bloodhound Gang guitarist, Daniel P Carter. I’m not entirely convinced a DJ set is a worthy support, it seems like a bit of a cop out. Surely there must have been some crappy, punk rock bunch of chancers that could have opened the show rather than a beardy bloke playing a few CDs? Fair play to Mr Carter though, he did play ‘Mother’ by Danzig and for a moment, we were pacified.

After he cleared his mobile disco off the stage, ‘Three Lions’ by Skinner, Baddiel and The Lightning Seeds was played through the P.A and then ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ to which Turbonegro came on and ripped into the set opener ‘Hello Darkness’.

By now the room had filled considerably and the band plowed through the set that was very heavy on ‘Sexual Harassment’ material. I suppose this is the band drawing a line under the past and trying to move on but I couldn’t help thinking that with such a back catalogue of proper classics, a few more wouldn’t have gone amiss. However, the new stuff was sounding great and there’s a lot of potential future classics in amongst them, especially the charmingly titled ‘Shake Your Shit Machine’.

 

Now I feel I need to have a mini rant at this point. I know it’s not for me to dictate how people should behave at gigs but would it really hurt for people to put their fucking smartphones away just for a while? I understand taking a few photos as a memory of the night but the tossrag stood next to me who constantly updated his Arsebook whilst yawning and posing got right on my tits. A sign of middle aged-ness creeping up on me maybe, but for fucks sake, it’s a gig!

Mr Sylvester was doing a first class job in his roll of new frontman and clearly relishes it. After a couple of encores featuring the greatest song ever written about pizza (‘Age of Pamparius’) and the moving ode to tumescence in male genitalia that is ‘I Got Erection’ it was all over and we were back on the rainy streets of Camden and a date with a life-threatening kebab in Kings Cross was calling.

The after-gig post-mortem was inconclusive and all we could agree on was they were good but the previous incarnation of Turbonegro slightly edged it and that we expected more. Hopefully the following night in Manchester would provide such.

 

After been picked up in York by our henchman ‘Oddjob’ who was providing the transport, it was over the Pennines for Turbonegro part two.
On entering the venue, it couldn’t have been more different than the previous night. Denim-clad maniacs everywhere in various states of shitfaced-ness and an atmosphere of impending chaos and a hell-bent desire to have a good time radiated throughout the packed room. This is more like it!

Set wise it was pretty much the same as the previous night but the band seemed much more into it and played it ‘harder’ if that makes any sense. They interacted with the rabid crowd much more than London and there was much talk of Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter and how they had spent the afternoon “Smoking heroin through Tony Wilson’s bones”.

Towards the end of the main set I found myself down the front, against the barrier howling along to ‘Get It On’ and marveling at the huge tattoo of a tiger Tony Sylvester has sprawled across his vast, sweaty expanse of stomach! The power of Rock ‘n Roll indeed.

Quite honestly, Turbonegro were superb in Manchester and all doubts from the previous night in London evaporated. It was everything a good gig should be with a bang up for it crowd going mental and a band playing at the top of their game. Chaos, mayhem and hardly a smartphone in sight too; must be a London thing!

“Gimme Deathpunk Baby” indeed…

Words and set-list pic by Andy Santiago. More writing by Andy on Louder Than War can be found here.

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