20th March 2007 was the last time I saw the “classic” line up of Towers of London live, in of all places London. It was also to be one of their last headline gigs together. Fast forward 12 years and the prospect of seeing Donny, Dirk, Rev, Snell and Tommy back together on stage really is getting me all nervous. Not least because I’m due to meet up with the guys beforehand to hand over some much sought-after film footage that has been in possession all these years that the guys now need for an upcoming documentary. A film, as I was soon to find out, they want to be a true reflection of their time together back in the mid-noughties, not some cheap expose piece only looking to create headlines.
That reckless sense of irresponsibility that drove the band first time around has very much been replaced by a more focussed and mature set of heads all looking to finally set the record straight both off and on stage, and what better way to start than by heading off on an eight date UK tour supporting The Wildhearts with Massive Wagons also along for this rock ‘n’ roll rollercoaster ride too.
Unfortunately tonight I can only stick around to witness the return of Towers Of London so I’ll leave the full gig reviews to my RPM colleagues to pick up at subsequent dates, but this is a very well-attended tour that’s for sure, with two dates sold out in advance and quite a few of the others close to capacity . This, in turn, means Towers of London get to play to full rooms and most importantly to a largely new audience, so come 7:30 sharp I’m stood a couple of rows from the barrier waiting for that infamous air raid siren intro tape to go up, before the 5 black boiler-suited Towers guys open fire with ‘I’m A Rat’ and suddenly all the years they’ve been away just seem…well….insignificant. This is the band who I thought could be the UK’s answer to Guns N’ Roses and save for a few, ahem, “misplaced” career decisions along the way what this line up did leave us with was one of the finest debut albums of the last 40 years.
Tonight then their nine-song set is split 60/40 in favour of that ‘Blood Sweat and Towers’ album and along with the likes of ‘Beaujolais’ and ‘Air Guitar’ the newer tracks (all set to be included on their as yet untitled third album) like the stadium rocker ‘Shot In The Dark’ complete with Snell thumping the kit and Rev adding the guitar chops now come over as with much more sneer and a lot less veneer, and the more polished sound that had been creeping into the band’s musical direction really has been toughened up with the return of the old guard. ‘Kill The Popscene’ indeed, but sadly that anthem is nowhere to be seen tonight.
Finishing their 30-minute set with Donny face to face with the front rows for a stinging ‘Fuck It Up’, it’s his comment “we’ve all fucked something up” just as he lets the microphone fall to the floor that perhaps best sums up this new/old version of Towers Of London. It’s that old Drink Fight Fuck spirit but without any of that “baggage” getting in the way of you finally realising that Towers of London were never really a guilty pleasure they were always a fucking great rock ‘n’ roll band.
Now, let’s have album number three and the highly anticipated documentary and perhaps finally we’ll get see Towers of London make it big. Who’s with me?
Author: Johnny Hayward