Live: The Twang – First Direct Arena, Leeds

From the year 2004 up to 2008, there was a surge in records being produced by artists in the UK that took indie-rock to the next level and paved the way for the industry taking control in the decade we are about to be leaving. One of the artists that produced, in my opinion, one of the top five pioneering albums, was The Twang with Love It When I Feel Like This.

Somehow in the 12 years since that record’s release, I hadn’t managed to catch the Birmingham based band, until Saturday night when they were supporting colossal Yorkshire band, Shed Seven at the First Direct Arena. From that first album, there are three stand-out tracks, all of which were performed in their set in Leeds. Debut single Wide Awake certainly warmed the crowd up and there was a sense of “Ahhh I know this song but didn’t know who sung it” in the room as people slowly picked up the lyrics from the 2007 release.

Either Way for me, is one of the tracks of the 00s. Every lyric of that song, you can relate to, and the sing along that ensued from the healthy Leeds crowd was beautiful, loved it, and I had a real moment listening to this track which defined my teens, live for the first time.

It was always a shame that The Twang didn’t follow up this record with another exceptional one, or you have to feel they’d have gone on to critical success. The two tracks that open Jewellery Quarter though, are mainstays in a Twang setlist and rightly so. Barney Rubble is a ridiculously underrated song and vocalist Phil Etheridge sings this one with real style and has the crowd hanging on to every meaningful lyric.

Set closer Took The Fun is the band’s most eclectic track and deserves its place at the end of the set. It has everything from the 00s genre and live, I found myself closing my eyes and being transported right back to being 13/14 playing football with my mates and it was just exquisite.

In 2019 though, The Twang are a new band and in November returned with new record If Confronted Just Go Mad, which is a very different sound from that which defined their career ten years ago. Much more Reverend and the Makers who were following than Shed Seven, their music has expanded from guitars to pop-oriented tracks, and a central role for new singer Cat Mctigue. Everytime and It Feels Like were performed at the show; I have to admit, I haven’t got into the record yet – it doesn’t feel like The Twang at all – but live, it was another story and I really liked their arrangement with the new tracks. It felt natural and compelling to watch – especially It Feels Like, which was much like a later Embrace track, something I love!

Reverend and the Makers and Shed Seven went on to kill their sets, phenomenal live bands – but coming away from the Arena after the show, I was still reeling off seeing one of the defining bands of the best years of my life. The Twang were impressive, and 2020 could see this band reach new heights in their career with a bounce back much like The Wombats have had since reaching new audiences. Watch this space!

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