Review by Jack Foley
Turin Brakes support James' farewell tour - Brighton Centre, December 2, 2001
I CAN count on the fingers of one hand the support groups I have found worthwhile. Most memorably, The Verve stole the show from Oasis at Earl's Court about the time of the Be Here Now tour, while the Longpigs (where are they now?) most certainly stole Cast's thunder in Brighton many moons ago.
While never threatening to steal James' limelight, however, Turin Brakes - the Mercury award nominated boys from Balham, whose Optimist LP will probably rate among the year's favourites - delivered the type of support turn which suggests of greater things to come.
Certainly, they are tipped to go far and on the strength of this showing, they will. You can pick the singles from the album (Underdog (Save Me) and Mind Over Money) quite easily, in that the rest sort of drifts into one melancholic acoustic guitar session. Songs slow build, occasionally they do very little. There is almost a relaxed, lazy feel to the listen. It can soothe you, or it can depress you, depending on your mood.
Not so live. Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian make for a great double act. They have that all-important stage presence and the talent to back it up. They even have a following. One member of the Brighton crowd dared to suggest that it was James who should have been supporting Turin Brakes, which raised a wry smile; while another who dared to jeer them was written off as a 'wanker'. And rightly so.
On the whole, however, the music did the talking. It was terrific. The guitar playing, spellbinding. And so much more lively and in your face than on the album. Here, the guitars really did come to life, evoking memories of bands such as Coldplay and Crowded House at their most mellow and cheerful; and, dare I say, Clapton and Pink Floyd at their most haunting and winesome.
You could tell from the reaction from most of the James supporters, this was something worth taking note of and the heaty round of applause afforded to the performers at the end of each song, and even the session, was evidence of how well they went down.
Of course, the singles stood out. Underdog, in particular, sounded crisp and exciting. It even had fans singing along, while Mind Over Money was equally as memorable. But album tracks also stood out, such as The Door (a slow builder which gave way to some scintillating guitar rifts), The Optimist and Emergency 72. Even a new track sounded instantly likeable (no mean feat), suggesting that Turin Brakes are no one-album wonders. Whether they will last the pace of James, or scale the same heights, remains to be seen. But as fans waved a fond farewell to one of their favourite live performers, they may just have said hello to another for the future.
I, for one, will be hoping to catch Turin Brakes when they next tour in London.