(Rock City, Nottingham, Sunday 27th February)
I might as well warn you in advance that I am going to be utterly unable to bring to this review that false, disconnected, authoritative voice of objectivity that covers the enthusiast press like an intimate rash. You know the voice I mean: the one whose inaudible undertones are saying, ‘Using my vast knowledge, I have placed this one particular musical experience within the context of all others. Thus you are invited to accept one of two possibilities. Either I am right; or you are mental.’
That’s not going to be possible here, and the reason for that is this: Terrorvision were my first proper rock band, and I suppose on that basis, they will always be my favourite by default. I’m often accused of being a grumpy, negative sod, so it might seem incongruous that I would be so captivated by a band probably best known for a daft ode to Mexican paint-thinner. I lose count of the number of times I’ve been to see them play around nine or ten. I spent large chunks of time in my teens rummaging about in record shops all over the place, trying to find B-sides I’d not yet heard. Every music fan has got a first band they fell in love with; for better or worse, Terrorvision were mine. This is the only context I am prepared to offer you.
Even so, I had mixed feelings about this new tour. They’d been romping around on a pretty regular basis since they ‘split up’ in 2001, packaging a shameless, guiltless nostalgia trip around all their bounciest hits. Residual cynicism about has-beens trading their integrity against past triumphs would just melt away in the glare of singer Tony Wright’s silly, beaming grin. It was hard to leave one of these ‘last ever’ gigs without the feeling that even those who detested this band ought to be able to admit the rock scene was the poorer for their absence. Nevertheless, a suspicion nagged that their best days were behind them.
This time, though, there’s a new record to push, and a new bum on the drum throne (that of Cam Greenwood). And though it was a great night overall, in all honesty, by the end I felt my mixed feelings were not entirely unfounded.
For the most part, nothing much has changed. They’re still fucking loud, they’re still uncomplicated, and they’re still sporting more bounce to the ounce than an anorexic on a pogo stick. The old stand-bys still start up and run beautifully, and apart from Greenwood’s insistence on chucking about flashier fills than former drummer Shutty ever played – which do not really work, in my opinion – it’s exactly like I’m a 16-year-old virgin again (instead of a 30-year-old virgin).
The band do not seem to have aged one bit, which is a pretty good advertisement for the kind of abuse they put themselves to. The three original members must be well into their 40s by now, but they are giving it some of that let me tell you what. Wright never stops jumping, dancing, sweating or saying ‘shit hot’; Mark Yates still wears his guitar around his knees and looks cool even in a trilby with a feather in it; and although bassist Leigh Marklew now resembles a bald Bono at the UN, on account of his dapper bugeye shades/weskit/tie combo, he snarls and spits and hoofs his basslines about like they’ve just piddled on his carpet. For My House, Discotheque Wreck, Some People Say, Enteralterego and Alice What’s the Matter, among others, I’m pretty much in my rock show element, reliving all my neck-achiest moments.
Unfortunately, songs from the new album Super Delux fail to captivate me. They sound Terrorvision enough; bouncy, catchy, unpretentious rock tunes. But nothing ever leaps out at me. I could put this down to not having properly heard the new record yet, and just write it off, but I suspect that I might have gone too far down the path of dull sludgy psychedelic cosmic stoner nonsense to have my heart once again captured by an all-new Terrorvision. I also get the sense I’m not the only one feeling this way, but the crowd stays buzzed enough, and there are plenty of folk singing along to all the new stuff, so what the heck do I know?
Terrorvision are always going to be a special band to me, but it feels like we parted musical company somewhere along the way. I wish them all successes with the new record, I genuinely do. But while their live show is every bit as brilliant, energetic and fun-filled as ever, and while I will always love their oldies, it feels like I’ve moved on. I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s me.