It’s officially summer here in the UK so what better way to celebrate a wet and muggy Sunday afternoon than to head off in the direction of Nottingham for a matinee show that promises to be something very special indeed. The Chameleon in the city center is, of course, the ideal venue for a rare visit to the UK from Turbonecro with the venue packed to the rafters and already doubling up as a sauna long before a single note is even played.
With local hardcore broken blues outfit Bloody Head filling the upstairs gig room with the head-splitting sonic assaults, they like to call songs things can only get more claustrophobic as the doom sludge button is duly turned up to 11. Hypnotic yet at times psychotic their singer is one of those frontmen who really has no boundaries and a half hour spent in the company of Bloody Head leaves me feeling how I imagine Anthony Joshua must be feeling this afternoon, bruised and very battered indeed.
With Vain’s ‘Secrets’ blasting out of the PA the all new supercharged version of The Hip Priests is chomping at the bit ready show the locals exactly why they aren’t going to be UK’s best kept punk rock secret (ouch) for very much longer. There’s barely room to sweat down the front as the Priests kick straight into ‘Motherfucker Superior’ and the whole place goes suitably nuts. I hear through the RPM grapevine that a similar thing happened the day before during the band’s Camden Rocks slot and with rave reviews across the board for the band’s fourth album ‘Stand For Nothing’, packed out gigs and the continued growth of the band’s Spasm Gang membership, maybe just maybe the band’s seemingly endless battle with the general apathy of the UK might just about to be coming to an end.
Of this afternoon’s setlist every track is an A Grade classic, from the old faves of ‘Zero Fucks Given’ and ‘Sonic Reproducer’ to newer cuts like ‘Welcome to Shit Island’ (complete with a hilarious version of the English national anthem intro), ‘Deja F.U.’ and ‘Cheers To Me’ it’s impossible not to get all emotional just like Priest stalwart Lee Love and crack a smile or two at just how fucking amazing his band is sounding right now.
Forget Dom declaring the Hip Priests are a tsunami of noise, they are a motherfucking tornado of energy and we the hapless punters are being sucked up into the (brown) eye of their musical storm. ‘Stand For Nothing’ is not only one of the best albums you will hear anywhere this year The Hip Priests are also one of the best live bands out there right now too. So if you’ve not heard or seen either of them you know what you have to do. Right?
With the current version of Turbonegro getting some pretty harsh (in my honest opinion) reviews from some factions of their fanbase who perhaps would prefer to see the band go back to their pre-Tony Sylvester sound at all costs, I can’t help but wonder “where the hell they all were today?” I’m amazed that the Midlands division of the blue denim brigade aren’t queuing rank and file around the block at the prospect of finally seeing Turbonecro playing live in the UK, perhaps there was a more important patch swap on or something?
All joking aside for those of us keen enough to drive 3 hours each way to sample some pre-Apocalyptic Rock in the company of Vegard H (guitar) Carlos C (drums), Harri F (vocals) and Bingo C (bass) it really is a chance to witness the roots of Turbonegro, and go back to a time when they simply wanted to be the most obnoxious band in Oslo, long before the sailor hats came along.
Bathed in feedback opener ‘Hush, Earthling’ and early single ‘Route Zero’ are both loose feeling white noise blasts that have Harri stalking the front few rows glaring them down with his stone-cold stare. It’s the short sharp shocks of ‘Clenched Teeth’ and ‘Librium Love’ from ‘Hot Cars’ where the hardcore roots of TRBNGR shine brightest though and I’m mindful just how much of a massive impact these guys made on the likes of bands like Christmas who carry on the Death Punk tradition to this day – albeit with their own subtle twist to the formula.
Blasting through (I think) 17 songs in just over half an hour the likes of ‘Timebomb’ and a straight to the point version of ‘I Got Erection’ whizz by in a sweaty blur whilst I’m pretty sure set closer ‘Prima Moffe’ also manages to segue into an overdriven segment of ‘Get It On’ at some point too.
Heading out into the late afternoon sunshine (see I told you it was summer here in the UK) and a few pounds lighter thanks to my punk rock sweat bath I really hope that this debut visit by Turbonecro to the UK doesn’t prove to be their only visit because whilst their mission statement might read No denim, No glam, No sailor, No fun they most certainly are whole lot of the latter and 24 hours on my ears are still ringing away almost to reinforce that point.
Author: Johnny Hayward