Turin Brakes + Kevin Pearce + Charlotte Carpenter @ The Glee Club, Birmingham, 4 November 2013

Beautifully hamornised folk rock with exquisitely detailed lyrics is the order for tonight, courtesy of a couple of the pioneers of indie understatement as Turin Brakes return with new album and UK tour, performing tonight at Birmingham’s comedy venue, The Glee Club.

Turin Brakes

First up is Charlotte Carpenter, singer songwriter akin with acoustic guitar. She’s very happy to be here. First song is ‘In the Night'; Carpenter usually plays with a band but this gives her opportunity to try out new songs like ‘The Siren’. ‘Thinking’ is a song about being annoyed at her mom (no not really, she loves her mom). Her new EP is out on 25 November, entitled ‘Whole’. She’s an elfin singer with floating lyrical voice. ‘Panda Light’ is a positive response to a girlie holiday, a song that rises and rises. “Love playing to crowds like you because you listen…” We sure do.

Next up Kevin Pearce, another singer songwriter, personally requested by Turin Brakes to support them on this tour. (He also gets to play the ME.R.C.H. man later in the night selling his and Turin Brakes stuff). Plaudits from the likes of Steve Lamacq and Absolute Radio’s Frank Skinner, his vocals been noted as being similar to Cat Stevens or Nick Drake. His latest album is intriguingly titled ‘Matthew Hopkins and The Wormhole.’

“Hello, you alright, I’m from Essex… which is next to Mordor…” First song up is ‘Tides’ with an infectious giddy-up rhythm. The pundits are right he’s a beautiful vocal style. The room watches, captivated. ‘Dynamite’ shows his Cat Stevens type vocals and rolls and rolls into a crescendo. He realises he’s forgot to mention his name, “I’m curly bollocks….” – we laugh. ‘Walking Oceans’, a track off his new album, has an acoustic Radiohead feel about it with soaring high-pitched vocals. Traditional folk track ‘On a Monday Morning’ he thought it was about how you feel on a Monday morning, when actually its a bit of a mickey-take; this is his ‘dead serious’ version. Pearce is going to teach us to sing the end of the next one ‘Circular Haze’’, for which we should sing “…there’s a chance we can own our own lives….” We start off quite feeble and nervous but we get better as the chant rolls on. Pearce is chatty, engaging and funny. ‘We’ve Been Loving’ is the new single, out November 8 and he’s really excited, as it’s the first time he’ll have made a music video. “This is the best gig of the tour….” (He says he says that every night) and he’s on social media (he’s a lot of time so join him for a chat) completing his set with last track ‘The Wormhole.’

Turin Brakes are Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian and when ‘live,’ are joined by Eddy Myer (bass) and Rob Allum (drums). Knights and Paridjanian have known each other since they were kids, and eventually joined up as Turin Brakes, continually developing their own unique sound since. TB morphed out of the same music scene that gave us Elbow, their debut album ‘The Optimist LP’ carried the singles ‘Underdog (Save Me)’ and ‘Mind Over Money’ and earned TB a Mercury Music nomination. They’ve been recording and touring ever since; they were part of Band Aid 20, have worked with others such as Take That, Tom McRae and Dido, played at Latitude and in 2012 played at a ‘Spirit of Talk Talk’ evening, performing alongside former members of that legendary band.

We’re standing tonight, I’m guessing allowing for more peeps in this intimate venue. As TB tweak their instrumental settings; “For a lot of you there’s not much breathing going on…. ” they say to the very quiet crowd.  They lead of with the first song off the new album… ‘Time and Money’ which rolls with harmonised vocals in true TB style, followed by a big cheer. “How you doing Birmingham? We put out a new album called ‘We Were Here’ – we’re gonna do the title track to the album…” And here it comes, TB are still well on form with their beautifully crafted songs. They note that there’s some ‘fresh meat’ in the audience – TB newbies. ‘Dear Dad’ immediately rocks out and rolls into psychedelic prog- rock, not far off Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’ which morphs into ‘Blindsided Again.’ TB have just delivered us the first third of their new album.

An intro to Eddie Mayer on the bass. “Who remembers ‘The Optimist’? The young adults we played to at the time, now bringing their kids…” A quip: “…the children of The Optimist!” As we go into the beautifully haunting ‘Mind Over Money.’

The next song was filmed on iPad when they played it in Australia and is available on YouTube; apparently it was hugely noticeable at the time, as said recording device was slap bang in front of them. TB weren’t impressed by their performance; they insist they play it much better now. It’s their new single ‘Guess You Heard’. “It’s bloody quiet out there…” The crowd laughs as TB progress into ‘Rain City’, a ballad, a light is shine on the glitterball in the centre of the room. In another life we’d be waving lighters from side to side as it’s sweetly sung.

After ‘Future Boy’, TB start retuning their instruments – “The next album will be called tuning…” As they tune they explain it’s their way to escape the kids, before ‘Emergency 72′.  The next track was in a film, well nearly. After all the excitement, on viewing they discovered that as the credits start to roll, it’s er…. Coldplay, then some other track, then, as the trademark appears it’s this track -> and the chords start up to ‘Pain Killer (Summer Rain).’

Next up ‘Let’s Go Fishing’… for a dream… An intro to drummer Rob Allum – he’s a really nice guy, we know this ‘cos he arranged for Gig Junkies access for tonight’s gig. (We thank you kind sir!). “Such a nice and polite audience…” “Thank you” says a punter.  We laugh yet again. And TB rock into the last track ‘Red Moon.’

Quick break and they’re back, except Ed’s disappeared. We hear a little voice: “Coming…” “You have to call him like a cat….” the band quip. Now they’re going to try a track without the PA – total acoustic, right at the front of the stage, almost quite literally on top of the audience in this intimate venue. ‘Mirror’ is just like they’re busking, all four of them are tight, just rocking on down. If this is an intimate gig, well it’s just got far more intimate. They’re pretty much playing in my front room. Wowsers. We all start clapping, track completed to a huge cheer!

First time they played the next song live was in this very room and so for a ‘second’ time it’s ‘The Sea Change’ (although our backs are indeed not against the wall) and the track whirls faster and faster.

Shouts for ‘Underdog’, but no; this is a song from NEW album. With a smattering of Floyd prog-rock inspiration, it’s ‘Goodbye.’ Then into a marching stomp with a reggae beat – as we’re into the requested ‘Underdog (Save Me)’… which gets that multi-purpose household lubricant in the lyrics … “Two black lines streaming out like a guidance line. Put one foot on the road now where the cyborgs are driving, with the WD-40 in their veins – your screeching little brakes complains…” The track rolls on, fading out with the repeating “…save me..…” Finishing the set bang on 11, the crowd responds with big cheers and huge applause. TB claps the audience and bow down – we (the audience) are not worthy.

TB are not afraid of rocking out, they remain as class as when they were optimistic over a decade ago. They’re still mesmerising, they haven’t lost any of their creative talent, beautiful vocals or perfect harmonies. They maybe older, they may be wiser – and that has just only added to everything Turin Brakes. Mercury Award and such nominations again? Definitely. Maybe.


Time and Money
We Were Here
Dear Dad
Blindsided Again
Above the Clover
Mind Over Money
Guess You Heard
Rain City
Future Boy
Emergency 72
Pain Killer (Summer Rain)
Fishing for a Dream
Red Moon
Mirror (acoustic without PA)
The Sea Change
Underdog (Save Me)



Turin Brakes:
The Optimist LP [2001]
Ethersong [2003]
We Were Here [2013]

Kevin Pearce:
Matthew Hopkins and The Wormhole [2013]
Pocket Handkerchief Lane [2011]


Review for Gig Junkies. Pictures: Ken Harrison