Live review by Tony Rounce
“We’re supporting Shonen Knife at the Brudenell next week, be great to see you if you can make it”. That was the message from punktacious threesome Nervous Twitch, and it was one I couldn’t ignore. A hometown gig by one of my very favourite bands, and only an afternoon away by National Express? Ticks more than a few boxes for me, I can tell you.
Nervous Twitch gigs in London and the south generally are something of a rarity, All its members have day jobs and thus can’t do many gigs that require them to be too far away from their Leeds home base. In fact the last time they played anywhere near London was in November 2018 – although they do have a couple of shows coming up down here soon, including a slot at Loud Women 4.
But if the proverbial mountain can’t get to Mohammed, and there’s nothing stopping Mohammed going to the mountain, a little sally forth towards the north seems more than in order – and a busy night at the Brudenell (which was also hosting a gig by Sham 69 in its other room) proved to be the perfect surroundings for a well-received set of classic Twitch.
Not much has changed since I saw them last, although the fourth album that they’re currently working on has impacted on the set in the form of several new songs, all of which sound as good as anything they’ve come up with before. They’re still a tight unit with short, sharp pop songs that carry mighty hooks and sing-along possibilities galore. There’s the same Top 40 ear-friendliness in their repertoire that you might associate with the best bands of the past 40 years and particularly the likes of Buzzcocks, the Runaways and Ramones. Erin Van Rumble’s whisper-to-a-scream voice is the perfect instrument to put them across, and if you come away from one of their gigs without at least one of their songs featuring as your latest earworm, you probably missed their set anyway.
They don’t mess about with too much between-song patter, preferring to let the music do the talking. Thus it was that they delivered 15 songs in less than 40 minutes, 14 vocals and the incredible surf instrumental ‘Tarantino Hangover’ that puts guitarist Jay Churchley in the spotlight for the only time during the set. Otherwise it’s all-Erin, all the time (occasionally with a bit of vocal backup from rock-solid drummer Ashley Goodall) as she tears through a strong cross section of their three past albums and a few from the forthcoming one. Highlights include long-time favourites ‘(My Baby’s Got) Somebody Else’(now promoted to show opener). ‘You Don’t Want Me’ and ‘Get Back In Line ‘. Their lone cover of the Velvet Underground’s ‘After Hours’ is always a good one for a sing-along (as demonstrated by their many pals in the audience beside me) as is ‘John Power’ (‘he’s a real go-getter’). The new songs already sound like they are one or two live plays short of anthemic status, something both sides of their most recent vinyl 45 ‘That Weird Guy’ and ‘Look At You Now’ achieved long ago. I have no doubt that that, even on home turf, they made a lot of new friends among those who were primarily there for Shonen Knife (who were wonderful, incidentally…)
If you are coming to Loud Women 4 – and why on Earth would anyone not be? – please do make sure that you don’t pass up the opportunity to see this band. Their musical message may not be as in-your-face as some of their peers, but they are the kind of band that you would have to be a very cold-hearted person not to love, even a little bit..
Nervous Twitch are playing at Summer Weird Sin at the Windmill, London SW9 on August 17th and are at Loud Women 4 on September 14th. You can also catch them supporting Shonen Knife again at the Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax this coming Saturday (July 27th)