The lights go up. I’m soaked through with sweat and am generally bruised and grazed all over. Mostly though, I’m grinning like a kid that’s just had all their Christmases at once.
Turbowolf have left the stage and I stand around in a bit of a daze. There are a lot of happy and sweaty faces around me and I’m already wishing the gig would just start all over again – I may need some oxygen before that however as I’m absolutely shattered. I’ve spent the last hour or so jumping around (mostly) in and out of the pit that erupted for literally every single song of the evening.
Thirteen songs and one band earlier I’d arrived at the venue with my small posse and unfortunately we’d missed Big Spring. Like a not very clever person, I assumed the 7pm start that I’d read somewhere was for doors opening, but no, it was obviously for the opening band. As the saying goes, “Never assume, because when you assume, you make an ass of u and me”.
There’s no driving required tonight by me, for a change, so we get drinks and then find a position at the front left of the crowd and wait for Puppy to finish setting up. I’ve seen them before at Bloodstock Open Air in 2017 and was pretty impressed. They played in front of a very decent crowd on the Sophie stage and easily won them over with their unique sound.
Tonight they do the same again and Stereo in Glasgow is mostly full already. The three piece fill the stage nicely and the sound quality is, as it always seems to be here, absolutely incredible. There’s an excellent combination of chunky riffs and sweet sounding chords being played by Jock Norton, who’s also got a voice you don’t often hear in metal – it’s quite soft and delicate sounding, which when it’s over some of their heavier riffs creates the contrast in sound that’s helped them gain a fair bit of deserved attention. Billy Howard on drums is energetic and on point, playing a brilliant combination of beats to the unusual time signatures that are emblematic of the Puppy sound. Backed up by the very capable and toweringly high Will Michael on bass and backing vocals, they enjoy a great response from the crowd in-between songs and at the end of their set.
It’s time for another drink. The last member of our posse arrives and he also buys me another drink. My out of practice and amateur drinking skills put me in that zone just before drunk that’s the perfect place to be. I’m getting pretty excited now and we regain our spot right at the front while the intermission music through the P.A has gone all continental sounding “muzak” on us. It’s an odd yet effective way to get the crowd warmed up and ready for the fuzzy tones that are due on stage any minute.
The lights dim, 4 figures walk past us and up the steps to the stage. Turbowolf launch into “Capital X” from the latest album (reviewed by yours truly here) The Free Life. It takes the first 8 bars of the intro before the crowd transforms into a sea of swaying, grinning, messy flesh. It’s beautiful, if you like that sort of thing…
Next up is “American Mirrors”. There’s a gentleman in front and beside our little group that may be the most enthusiastic human being on the planet, though I should clarify that this is in waves. For approximately half of every song throughout the gig he’s shouting, bouncing and punching the air, singing along, enthusing towards Lianna on bass… For the other half he’s crumpled over her stage monitor (those triangular speakers at the front that mainly seem to serve as platforms for the bands to pose on). At one point I actually thought he passed out before he was shaken by a stage hand and instantly reverted back to bouncy enthusiasm. At some point he decided to remove his T-shirt, swing it around a bit and try to put it back on. He managed the first time. The second time however, not so much luck. He put it on upside down (just don’t fucking ask how), shredded the neck of it quite obviously and ended up wearing it like a tiny toga… Lovely. A whole paragraph for you random dude, whoever you are, you legend, sort of.
Cheap Magic next and by this point I can solidly confirm that the new material easily works as well live as the old. It all fits together and makes one big audible lump of Turbowolf that flows quite amazingly. There have been some words uttered by Chris in between songs, polite, articulate words. Encouraging words directed towards the crowd that are also grateful, in a tongue-in-cheek but fully sincere way. All rock n’ roll should sound this educated – but also sound as dirty as Andy’s guitar tones.
Next up we get the intro to “Solid Gold” and I feel my rational review (which would be obtained like a proper journalist, by observing the band carefully from a well selected position) is about to be thrown out of the proverbial window. As soon as the intro is over and that riff begins, I find myself lost in the heaving throng that is now taking up the whole front half of the crowd. I don’t really know what happened. My own legs just threw me in there, I tried to stop them and debate the pros and cons in a reasonable and sensible way, but they just kicked me as a distraction and then jumped me through a group of people, landing in the middle of “the pit” and I was unable to find my way back. True story…
At the end of the song I manage to scramble my way back to my group. All for nought however, as the next song they launch in to is “Blackhole” which is a personal favourite from the new album. It has a super infectious rockabilly style beat courtesy of Blake, and I’m straight back in to the sea of bodies.
If I’m honest here, I actually lost track of what the order of songs was here as I spent the rest of the set throwing myself around in amongst the salty masses. Everyone’s smiling. There’s the occasional crowd surfer, at some point Chris gets a girl from the crowd up on stage to have a shot of his keyboard (insert organ joke here). They play “Domino” during this whole personally blurry section of the night and I only specifically remember that because someone in the crowd successfully guessed it as the next song. Luckily for me though, I later had the set list sent to me by a kind and nameless person – so I can write the order more accurately than my oxygen-deprived brain remembered from the night!
After “Domino” finished we were treated to “Good Hand” and I don’t think there was a person left in Glasgow that wasn’t jumping up and down to it. Yup, even the ones who weren’t at the gig. I’m reminded of some of the best gigs I’ve been to at the Barras where the floor starts to feel like a trampoline because there are so many people in a synchronised bouncy mass. “Good Hand” leads in to “Very Bad” and being as fast it is and given that we’re now ten songs in, you’d think the crowd (and myself) would take it a little more easy… But no, it’s still brilliant madness in the general area that’s literally everywhere in the crowd.
First of the final three songs is “A Rose for the Crows”, and it’s probably my single favourite Turbowolf song of all. Probably. As the intro plays I look at my girlfriend with a hint of apology and as soon as it kicks in I throw myself, nearly backwards, at the wall of people to my side. It’s an instant pit. I’ve rarely ever, and only once before in Stereo, seen such an enthusiastic crowd, coincidentally also for Turbowolf – Glasgow has a lot of love for them.
“Rabbit’s Foot” with that huge bass-line next and everyone is still bouncing. Under three minutes later and Chris announces what will be their last song. Everyone seems a little sad about that even if they’ve sweated near enough their whole body weight out during the last 12 songs. “The Free Life” starts…
It’s my song of the year so far. The crowd and myself (goes without saying at this point) go absolutely bat-shit crazy. Everyone’s singing along to a song they’ve only heard in the last few days/couple weeks on YouTube. The chorus is the most infectious thing to come out of England since The Black Death. Thankfully, halfway through the song there’s a lull and break in the tempo – I point my face toward the ceiling and gasp in some air knowing what’s coming up in a few seconds…
A few insane and physically exhausting minutes later, they’ve thanked the crowd and left the stage, leaving me at the beginning of this review.
This was easily one of my top three gigs of all time. Genuinely brilliant. Go and see them live if you possibly can.