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Good Friday, 14th April 2017
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Gig Review

Two Wounded Birds / Tyrannosaur Dead
Brighton, Green Door Store

Article written by Max K - Oct 16, 2012

Two Wounded Birds
A damp, drizzly Wednesday lurking in the shadows of the wasteland behind Brighton station had all the feel of Guy Richie at his worst, but with five middle-aged duffers rather than the enigmatic Jason Statham as its focus, muttering about it being a school night and trying not to turn an ankle in one of the numerous pot-hole puddles. Such was our approach to the Green Door Store, wondering if it was all a ‘set-up’ and half expecting geezers with shooters to pop out of the woodwork...

As it was, four soggy, cardigan-wearing smokers under a sunshade umbrella standing next to a chink of light indicated the entrance to the GDS and dispelled any lingering air of menace. This was bohemian Brighton, the workshops transformed into studios and not-for-profit businesses, or in our case one of the smallest and, as it turned out, cosiest live venues the city has to offer. No security, the bloke sat at a curtained archway taking our word for it that we had tickets, with a perky, ‘Hi guys, enjoy your night…’ and we were in.

Thence to the bar, manned by a Hoxton émigré dude behind a line of reassuring draught beers – or so we thought... One order of Guinness later led to surreptitious pouring from a can behind the ‘tap’ and a look that said ‘I’m busted’ – a squealed ‘I never said it was draught...’ quickly following. This was clearly where the set for the Crossroads wine-bar ended up. We never did find out why there was a sink set in the bar rather than behind it, but hey…

So, amused and bemused, to things beyond the curtain. The main room was interesting – about thirty feet square, with just about the lowest stage (18 inches high at best), lit by just about the lowest wattage bulbs (5W tops) and with a slightly off-putting gutter running down the middle of the cobbled floor – ‘please, don’t let it be the toilet overflow’, was the collective thought running through our heads, we’re not 20 anymore, squalor is no longer rock-star chic and I’ve left my Marigolds at home…

The greatest part of the room though, which words will not, and cannot, do enough justice to, was the VIP area – this phrase is used sparingly, the reality being a walled-off corner, the wall being waist-high, in which was set a door-frame, sans door, obviously. The ‘interior’ was furnished with a cheap clothes rack, the type you see by the changing rooms in BHS, a low table (around which, presumably, the VIPs could luxuriate) and the saddest rider known to man – a box of Becks and a few water bottles. Rock and roll!! Put this with the set for the bar and you’re left thinking Monty Python couldn’t have made it up (well, they probably could’ve, but it’d be shit…)

One of the support bands, Tyrannosaur Dead, broke into our piss-taking with a cascade of coruscating guitar noise and a mix of fey boy-girl vocals – we couldn’t really make out any words but the overall effect was quite impressive. They appeared to have Animal from The Muppets on drums and a guy on bass who was either the band’s philosophy lecturer (and this was some kind of experiential field-trip exercise) or, judging by the relatively early hour, had to observe a curfew, lest his ankle bracelet start wibbling – I’m sure, of the two options, the second is by far the sexier, though when the set finished they did seem to be carrying out a post-gig review/tutorial. Hmmm...

The TWB crew took to the stage before their roadie had departed, it seemed, until said roadie stayed to play bass – what was this, where was blonde bombshell Ally Blackgrove, the welcome glam to an otherwise ‘white boys with guitars’ band? Speculation abounded – she’s split up with Johnny, she’s at home with their new-born/expecting their new-born, this new guy is Johnny’s boyfriend... Honestly, it was worse than EastEnders. Subsequent research unveiled rather unkind tweets (I hate Twitter, btw...) suggesting a pretty acrimonious parting of ways, which is a shame but I s’pose if you’re not happy, etc.

A familiarly tight set followed, falling back on the relatively recent album, with no discernible new material – we were treated to a ‘new track’ but I think that related to the latest lifting from the album (I wasn’t really listening to the mumbled inter-song banter). Don’t get me wrong, they’re good at what they do and the set-list is fine, but music can’t stand still, they really need to move on a bit or they’ll lose their appeal. This gig was a case in point – OK, it was a wet Wednesday but the small venue with a small crowd (about 80 or so?) can’t have seemed like the great leap forward. Yes, it was great for us, it felt special, intimate even, but when JD exhorted everyone to shuffle forward towards the stage I felt a little of their mystique evaporated. What has seemed like effortless cool up to now, like the swigging from a bottle of red wine tonight, seems tinged with a slight inertia – I hope I’m wrong…

To be honest, we were more scared of getting press-ganged into the bad tango-ing that a few girls were doing just in front of the stage than worrying about the future of the band, standing as we were in louche nonchalance befitting our years – inside we were shitting ourselves…

So, enjoyable as ever, but I wonder if, and where, TWB will play Brighton again – it’s a town they fit like a glove, so I’m hoping it was just the tiny, and highly recommended, venue that led to the low key nature of events this time around. Paradoxically though, it just might be that it’ll be gigs like these which will make and break them…


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