Eight years since they last played Manchester, London based punk rock band Towers of London are back. There was never any official break-up, more of a hiatus, with a single Shake It released in 2015 and a handful of gigs. They have a new (third) album set for release next year with two gigs in this month. A sold out gig at London’s Crowndale on 7th December and tonight’s gig at Night People in Manchester. A flurry of snow could have brought the country’s transport system to a halt, luckily it was only a flurry and Towers of London made it up past the Watford Gap. I hadn’t been to Night People before, or didn’t think I had, but in a past life it was called Alter Ego and before that Mutz Nutz so it turns out I had been to it’s alter ego! A basement venue which hosts regular club nights and has it’s own Night People lager, which went down very well!
Opening tonight was Kieran Dobson an alternative artist based in Manchester. In his velvet jacket and just a touch too short satin trousers he could easily have passed for the the son of the Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker. He launched into How Was Your Weekend followed by a cover of Edwyn Collins’ A Girl Like You which he said he hoped would keep us interested. Musician Sasha alternated between keys and second guitar, as required, as the band played songs including Euthanasia and John Paul Vertigo with Kieran expressive throughout, pouting, kneeling or lying on the stage. Chatting to former members of his band, who were in the audience, they said he was indeed influenced by Jarvis Cocker and also Morrissey. During the set I was reminded of bands like The Mission and Gene Love Jezebel. Nearing the end Kieran thanked everyone for coming down and said ‘It warmed his heart’ before the last song, Tell Me That You Want Me which he said was about ‘fucking with attitude’ and will be his new single due out in February next year. This had a more gypsy vibe I’m thinking something like The Urban Voodoo Machine, definitely my favourite song of his, a good one to finish the set.
Finally my eight year wait to see Towers of London was over as a siren heralded the band bowling through the audience. (Night People is one of those venues where the band have to walk through the audience to get to the stage). They opened with Superbowl, a catchy, funky number due to be released as a next single next month. With lyrics including ‘When the lights go down, the stars come out. I’m Superbowl. I’m Superbowl’ a super start, so was I about to be bowled over or left feeling in the gutter? Only time would tell. Donny’s microphone failed after the first song but, not letting this ruin their game, the band said they would spend five minutes with the audience whilst waiting for a replacement, no diva strops here just a T-Rex Get It On break, fittingly that was the song played during the time it took to get the microphone sorted, then the instantly recognisable drum beat start to On A Noose meant the show was back underway and, for me, it was worth the eight year wait to see my favourite Towers of London song (their debut single back in 2005) live again.
The set consisted of new songs from their forthcoming third, album set to be released next year and songs from their dynamic debut album Blood, Sweat and Towers. Nothing from the second album Fizzy Pop which, to be honest, I wasn’t keen on so I did worry beforehand that I wouldn’t like the new stuff, but I was worrying unduly. Two guys at the front were obviously Blood, Sweat and Towers fans as they were singing along to all the songs from that album, but it seems the new songs went down well as they never stopped dancing throughout the set, I think they may even have been dancing during microphonegate! Original members and brothers, Donny in jeans and black leather jackets still looked the same as they did back in the day, just with shorter, slicked back hair these days. Tommy still looked the same.
New song Send in the Roses had Donny tapping his heart, expressive throughout, crouching, jumping and miming actions, where appropriate, to the lyrics. Green Eyes a slower rap infused song. I managed to get a copy of the set list after but I’m not sure if a couple of the new songs were missed out as Fuck It Up, a popular one with the audience which had Donny doing a snorting action, made it into the set before another popular one Air Guitar. Jump with the chorus ‘Jump, everybody jump if you wanna jump’ another rapping number, which had me thinking more of House of Pain’s Jump Around than Van Halen’s Jump or the Pointer Sisters’ Jump (For My Love). Merge all three together and just jump anyway – why not? How Rude She Was saw Donny pointing to his backside for the lyrics ‘pain in the arse’ and had a bit of audience participation with a girl getting up and dancing at the front of the stage.
Then I have written Beaujolais, although I’m not sure if I imagined that now, or it did indeed make it into the set. By this stage Donny has removed the leather jacket and I was squinting trying to make out the words on his t-shirt, which I made out as Reiki Art, a nod at his new career as a Reiki master. He said they were going to take it down for one of the new songs which I thought sounded like he was singing ‘You’re crazy’ but looking at the set list it was probably ‘You’re amazing’. I haven’t heard the new album yet so sorry if I misheard, entirely different meanings but I didn’t write down all the lyrics just a few that I caught, great riffs in this one, and I was convinced his slower, almost floaty arm moves meant he was tying out a bit of Reiki on us. The last song of the main set was the anthemic, latest single Shot in the Dark then the band went off to shouts for more before coming back for I’m a Rat which had the audience singing, clapping and dancing along. Donny’s final words ‘Thanks a lot. Get home safe guys it’s cold out there’. I think the Reiki worked because I definitely came out of the gig feeling good. Great set, love the new songs. I just hope I don’t have to wait eight years until next time!
Set List: –
On a Noose
Send in the Roses
Get Yourself Out of Here
Do You Hear Me Now
How Rude She Was
Push it the Same Way
Shot in the Dark
I’m a Rat
Donny T, Frankie Brannan, Rocco, Stevie Sunset, Tommy De’Ath