Gig review: Turin Brakes at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

It's 15-years to the day since Turin Brakes released their debut album, The Optimist LP.

Turin Brakes at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Picture: Gary Brightbart
Turin Brakes at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. Picture: Gary Brightbart

The London quartet may have vanished from the public eye during the interim period but they’ve continued to release a steady stream of material and away from the mainstream have sustained a solid fan-base.

This sold out gig helps to explain the key to their longevity. Initially linked to the short-lived ‘new acoustic’ movement, alongside the likes of Kings Of Convenience and Starsailor, they emerged as over earnest indie-folksters with a neat line in harmonies on breakout hits ‘Underdog (Save Me)’ and ‘Pain Killer (Summer Rain)’.

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Still occupying folk and dusty Americana’s middle ground, they’ve nonetheless gone on to adopt a more electric sound. ‘Emergency 72’, for instance, has clear parallels to the phrasings on Radiohead’s The Bends. Set closer ‘Black Rabbit’, meanwhile, almost constitutes a rock out as its quiet-loud build concludes with a prog outro during which band members crowd around drummer Rob Allum.

If the lyrics on these tracks are sometimes simple homilies (“I’ve got to keep both feet on the ground,” runs the sensible ‘Last Chance’) then Olly Knights raises them into heartfelt soul with his delivery. A distinctive voice that quivers like Jeff Buckley with a Rich Tea addiction, he manages to imbue a sense of longing and wistfulness to ‘Mind Over Money’ and new single ‘Save You’.

It’s the sense of intimacy created by his vocals that, perhaps more than the simple melodies, connects with the band’s listeners and has ensured they’ve lasted the long distance.