Twisted Wheel at The Borderline
Glancing around at the modest-sized crowd of mid-twenties to late thirty-something “nouveau mod-rockers”, you can’t help getting a similar kind of feeling that you might when seeing a band like The Darkness. What The Darkness were (or still are) for heavy metal, Twisted Wheel seem to be for British rock ‘n’ roll.
The band tick off one cliché after another as they work their way through their set, moving through The Jam-like vocals to Arctic Monkey-style riffs and guitar solos, to Oasis rockers – think Cigarettes and Alcohol, to which at least four of their faster songs bear a remarkable likeness – and throwing in a sprinkle of almost everything in between: The Kinks, The Clash, Billy Bragg… And the largely male audience absolutely love it. They continuously chant “Whee-eel Whee-eel” between songs, and “Oi oi oi”, punk style, dancing merrily in their Fred Perry and Ben Sherman gear. At times you feel you could be watching a scene set in the stands of a lower league football match, on a film set in a rose-tinted 80s Britain.
However, this isn’t to say the beloved Wheel are not completely undeserving of this adoration. Yes, it’s true what the papers say: Twisted Wheel do put on a pretty good live show! Johnny Brown sweats and snarls his way through the high tempo tracks, all punk poses and aggression, while Rick Lee and Eoghan Clifford always look like they’re having a lot of fun pummelling their bass and drums respectively. And they can pull off the softer songs too, getting that magical balance of style and spontaneity just right.
When they knock out their single Ride towards the end of the set you can’t help noticing a kind of end-of-the-weekend-at-a-festival type electricity in the room. Seeing the crowd gratefully sing along to this one, and later the encore You Stole the Sun, you wonder, just for a moment, if maybe there really is something in this band.
But no, for as long as their great stage presence and tight playing have to carry such tedious and unoriginal songs, Twisted Wheel will always resemble a good pub band with a loyal following that’s got a little bit carried away.
Photos: Federica Sclippa
For further information and future events visit Twisted Wheel’s website here.
Watch the video for new single We Are Us here: