Twisted Wheel : Kendal Calling festival : live review

Twisted Wheel

Kendal Calling festival

live review


‘When Jonny comes march home again…!’


The tent is packed.


A seething, sweating mass of bodies are going crazy.


There are even people surfing on the fevered masses on four grubby mattresses and it feels like some kind of late seventies punk rock gig with that all or nothing surge of energy.


Onstage a twitching, charismatic frontman called Jonny Brown is melting in front of our eyes. He delivers his guttural street poetry with a frantic leer and his scratching guitar chops into your skull. If he wasn’t so dressed down Northern street man he could be the reincarnation of prime time Joe Strummer, capturing the great Clash man’s intensity and brilliance of delivering the word to the people.


But this is not the Clash, it’s Twisted Wheel and they have their own story to tell.


Once the hippest band on the Mancunian block, they came out of Oldham on fire and got chased by cheque book wielding record labels. They then got pushed, promoted and dropped. There was drugs and a whole band left but somehow Jonny has come back with an even more abrasive and powerful band and kicked the demons with a disciplined and powerful new line up that is one of the best live bands I’ve seen all year – and I get to see a lot of bands.


The combine a twitching, feral intensity with powerful and beautifully written songs and great lyrics that tell the real story of what’s going on out there.


They coulda- shoulda- woulda been massive but they just won’t die and if every gig they play is like this they are returning for an astonishing comeback.


Twisted Wheel are number one in a chart of bands who should be massive but they are back and they ram out the tent to dangerous proportions with a crowd of sweat shod, bug eyes crazies who throw mattresses around and chant ‘wheel’ back at the band. it feels dangerous like all rock n roll should and the band back it up with a set of great songs..


They are like a stripped down amphetamined take on the Gallagher’s prime time swagger but there is enough punk rock rush in there to seriously make them the best young punk rock band in the UK since the glorious two sevens clashed. This is tight punchy and thrilling band somehow at the top of their game with great tunes and where rhythm really is king and this shit really stomps.


Jonny is a charismatic presence who plays rock n roll like his life depends on it and you kinda know that it does. This is Serious Business.



They were great the first time I saw them all those years ago but now they are totally serious, a hungry band defying the odds that plays street rock n roll like their life depends on it. A perfect antidote to the posh kids and their public school anthems and armed with far better songs.


Imagine if Joe Strummer had come from Oldham and went to the school of hard knocks, imagine if Joe had been northern, just imagine- well you don’t have to,


Jonny Brown is a god for the madheads and lunatics that love the rush of guitars more than anything, he is the poet laureate for the people left out of modern UK but who know their music inside out, but being a legend don’t pay da bills and Twisted Wheel deserve to be massive because you deserve this band to soundtrack these fucked up times and it won’r be long before they pull off their second coming.


This is not a band, it’s a high octane rock n roll revolution



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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Having known the Wheel for quite a while, I have to say that this was not only the best Twisted Wheel gig I’ve been to, but one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. The atmosphere was ELECTRIC!! Standing half way back at the side, me & my mates looked at my girlfriend jumping round on the mattress on the floor near us and decided it would be funny if we chucked it into the rest of the crowd…..We all know what happened from there on in!! Pleasure to have a quick chat with John near the door on the way out, top bloke. Kendal Calling is an absolutely amazing festival and it walks all over Leeds/Reading. Long Live Kendal Calling, Long Live Twisted Wheel!


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