Turin Brakes, Bristol Thekla

Turin Brakes are now a long held passion, ever since the days of The Optimist (first time around). They were the first band I took the Lad to see and we have seen them every year since. They have never let us down, always knocking out an excellent gig, producing music I always return to, what more can you ask for?

This is the tenth anniversary of that first album, when they were riding the new-wave folk thing. OK they may no longer be the darlings of whatever the current fad name is, but they have a strong and loyal following amongst those who always knew that what they made was good music, no matter what the tag attached to it. So here they are rolling around the UK playing The Optimist in full, in order and as close to the original sound as possible, and judging by the Bristol crowd and the reports from other shows, the love is still there.

Tonight’s show, at the quirky but loveable Thekla, moored for ever in the Mud Dock in Bristol, was opened by one Jersey Budd. Accompanied by two mates, one of keys and one on guitar, he tried, and succeeded, in getting the mood going with a set of his own songs. Looking and sounding uncannily like a later day Paul Weller (not that that is a crime in any way) he certainly got the tick of approval from Mrs HC. As the set moved on he really seemed to find his feet and by the end even the shy early crowd had gathered around like a proper audience. His first album Wonderlands was on sale for a mere fiver and was purchased, his second is due next year it seems.

TB rolled on stage to a frankly ecstatic reception, it seems echoing the receptions at other shows so far. Ollie ‘fessed quickly to being terrified of being on boats which explained his less than happy demeanour at first. They reminisced that the only other time they played the Thekla some eleven years ago, only 3 people showed, no such problem tonight at the sell out show.

The set list for the first half is easy – The Optimist from start to finish. The band, comprising those who played on the original album and who perennially make up the touring band, know each other so well, have played together so often, that you get a rapport that can only be built over years.

The Optimist sounded as fresh and beguiling as it did back when it was released, songs that have stood the test of time, a quality and song-smithing that is the hallmark of this band. I hope they don’t mind but I grabbed some little vids of three of the set, now stuck on YouTube – The Door, Future Boy and  By TV Light as well as the final, off-PA encore of Mirror from their last album Outbursts, that is embedded below. (Apologies that Ed’s head seems to have turned into an ageing data projector….)

After a little break they all came back to play another forty minute set, again mostly from the earlier albums. After eleven years TB have such a repertoire they could play all night, quality song after quality song.

A crowd at the Thekla can be an intimate thing but tonight it genuinely felt like we were all one big happy family, we knew why we were there, we knew TB would be great, and  there was a warmth and empathy that is rare.

They seemed touched and pleased with the reception and thanked everyone for the last eleven years, well here’s to the next eleven, bless their little hearts, long may they continue.

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