Turin Brakes With Support From Kevin Pearce

by Ed Cannon

Singer-songwriter Kevin Pearce was the supposed ‘warm up act’ to Turin Brakes. However upon entering, the atmosphere was noticeably cold. His mellow yet emotional tone tended to jarr with the setting of the Phoenix - he would have been better at home in a more intimate setting. His rendition of Neil Young’s Heart Of Gold was well-suited to his voice and the audience responded well. Listening to his calming acoustic set would have been more appropriate to write an essay to, as opposed to a live gig. Nevertheless, he complemented the Brakes’ set well.

As someone who did not know Turin Brakes’ music I only had an afternoon of YouTubing to become familiar with their style. However they started their set by running through the first half of their new album, We Were Here. The duo, Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian, made a conscious effort to return to their older folk-influenced pop material whilst also incorporating songs of a soft rock nature. Yet the result, which was made even clearer live, was an unnatural mix of genres. Their soulful song Guess You Heard, contrasted hugely with blues-y ballad, Sleeper. Overall their new album just seems to be plagued by the band’s ability to be so versatile.

However, what was apparent was the two guitarists’ ability to improvise with impressive solos in many of their new songs. The audience, vastly made up of middle-aged folk enthusiasts, certainly seemed to warm up when they returned to better-known singles Painkiller, Underdog and to a slightly lesser degree, Sea Change. The Lemmy-like sticky wooden floors and echoey Phoenix walls certainly did not seem to help the atmosphere the guys were trying to create.

Overall, it was the type of gig you wouldn’t be ashamed to take your parents to, but you would glance at your watch a few times throughout the night. Yet if, like me, you were still recovering from a Friday or Saturday night out, this was a high-quality hangover cure. I would certainly recommend them to any Jack Johnson or Coldplay fan for their relaxed vibe and powerful lyrics. But as an afternote I would advise, listen to their older albums - Ether Song or JackInABox - as opposed to their latest work.