Review: Turbowolf at the Portland Arms

Miriam Shovel 28 April 2015

Somehow, and quite unexpectantly, I have developed an association with a psychedelic rock band from Bristol.

The story starts with me desperate to interview the Mercury Prize nominees Royal Blood when they played at the Cambridge Junction last year. Despite their manager’s statement that the band would not have the time for interviews, I decided to try another strategy, and thought that getting an interview with a support band could allow me to ‘accidentally’ bump into Royal Blood. Looking up the support acts, I found the name, Turbowolf, wrote a quick email to their manager, and decided to check a few tracks out online to see if they were tolerable. Five months later, I have a T-shirt, two albums, their sticker on my wall (sorry college!), have seen them live twice, and their drummer has his name written on my right Converse.

Turbowolf have been on the music scene since 2010, but it is only with the recent release of their second album, Two Hands, that they have been receiving significant radio airplay. The album was recently highlighted in the Radio 1 feature ‘It’s Album Time’ by Annie Mac, the single ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ chosen as the ‘Rockest Record of the Week’ on Radio 1, and the guitar riff drop in ‘Solid Gold’ has been championed by several Cam FM presenters since January. Consequently, it was not surprising to find The Portland Arms rammed on Monday 20 April when Turbowolf returned to Cambridge.

The two support acts Hyena and Dolomite Minor deserve mention. Dolomite Minor produced an astonishingly full sound for a duo, and their singles ‘Let Me Go’ and ‘Talk Like An Aztec’ are must-listens for any rock music fan with their eye on emerging talent. However, as Turbowolf walked through the crowd on their way to the stage, it was clear from the intensity of cheering, as well as the impressive number of people wearing Turbowolf-branded clothing, that most people hadn’t simply got lost on their way to the toilet. The atmosphere buzzed with excitement and people were clearly ready to receive their dose of hardcore quirky rock. Vocalist Georgiadis greeted the crowd warmly and calmly announced that they would start by playing the first song off their new album, 'Invisible Hand'. After the pleasant (even tranquil) 50-second intro, the guitars exploded into life with an intensity that, like a plane taking off, could only leave you smiling.

Mosh pits, head banging, multiple bouts of crowd surfing, a half-naked drummer covered with sweat, impressive guitar playing, and inane insane crowd interaction all occurred during the one hour set: all perfect accompaniment to a set list bursting with heavy riffs and shouted vocals. During the 14-song set, Turbowolf intermixed material off their critically acclaimed debut album, Turbowolf, and their new album effortlessly, with particular highlights being ‘Rabbit’s Foot’, ‘Solid Gold’ and ‘Nine Lives’ from their new album, and ‘Rose for the Crows’ and ‘Let’s Die’ from their first album.

Though the sound could have been mixed slightly better, Turbowolf provided a hugely entertaining evening. Their music, at that volume, gives you the overwhelming desire to curl in a ball and shout ‘too much!’, but in that there is a very pure sense of joy. Whilst some expressed it by gleeful moshing, and others by absorbing the heavy sound eyes-closed, Turbowolf excelled in connecting to, and captivating, the audience. Turbowolf provide free-thinking good quality rock music absurdity, and it was a pleasure to once again bear witness to it.