I’d only seen this band in a supportive capacity, when they supported Oasis at Heaton Park, and Paul Weller at Sherwood Pines. Could they step out of the shadows of those big names and impress on their own? Kind of…
Date: March 3, 2013
Venue: The Venue, Derby
A few chants of “Wheel, Wheel, Wheel” permeate the sweaty air like some sort of ill-formed terrace chant. Smatterings of drunken fans surround the stage in anticipation. Elsewhere the choice of apparel is typical: clothes by Fred Perry, Stone Island and Lambretta, hair by Weller.
By now, assuming you don’t know already, you’d be under the presumption that Twisted Wheel are the type of band that get labelled with the term ‘modish’, and who have been pigeon-holed neatly into the genre that reads ‘lad-rock’. You would be right.
And with Liam and Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller as fans (the band have supported both in the past), and with a swagger and a cocksure attitude coupling with their strong Mancunian accents, ‘lad-rock’ is exactly what they are.
But that is not a criticism. While many assume ‘lad-rock’ to mean over-inflated egos and charmless self-promotion, Twisted Wheel, or at least front man Jonny, aren’t the archetypical chest-bulging prize pillocks which that genre can churn out.
In fact, although their music resembles The Courteeners in their formative years, Jonny’s machismo is not on the same scale is that band’s leader Liam Fray, back when Fray used to spurt out his lofty rhetoric like a Tourette’s sufferer.
Yes the lyrics are stark reminders of the perils of coming of age, and finding/losing work, love and cash while dealing with young life in Greater Manchester, but scratch beneath the surface of the brash thrash of an expansive, Libertines-y set list, and there’s a vulnerability to them. They have harnessed the warmth shown to them by their luminaries, and built this into a steely and determined rock ‘n’ roll band willing to work hard for their crust.
While Derby’s audience is largely unresponsive and apathetic, the band remains focussed. None of your “Come on Derby, let’s ‘ave it” nonsense you’d expect of a young Fray or Gallagher. They simply plough through a set that reeks of The Libertines messing with songs from The Jam, only shifting gear for Bouncy Bomb and DYL, which Jonny sings alone with a lonesome, plaintive guitar.
It’s only towards the end of the set, when the drunkards have become even more intoxicated, that the crowd react and a mosh pit forms for fan favourite You Stole The Sun.
But it’s new single Ride which stands out. Cleverly composed in both structure and pattern, it almost seems maladjusted; misaligned with the set. But the set is better for it, and if they can keep on writing songs that good, and maybe follow The Courteeners example and change tact a little, they have a chance of actually making a mark. Weller would be proud