Towers of London: Cardiff Barfly 02/03/07
It'd be easy get bitter.
The first time the Towers played Cardiff Barfly, the place was barely half full. A handful of first-time-round punks, a smattering of NME readers with tongues jammed firmly in their cheeks, a couple of pissheads looking for a fight. And they were brilliant - snarling, sneering, bitching, and just about the most exciting thing I'd seen all year. A few people clapped.
Fast-forward eighteen month or so, and oh, how reality TV changes everything. The old crowd are still here, but the rest of the place is packed out with scene kids and curious BB fans, all taking pictures on their camera phones and bouncing along to an infectiously noisy support set by local heroes Midasuno. They may look a bit on the emo side, but there's no self-pity with this lot - just lots of energy, lots of REALLY FUCKING LOUD guitars, and lots of fun.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. Bitterness. You know the feeling. The one that occurs whenever the mainstream gets its grubby mitts on one of your bands and suddenly you can't get close enough to see the whites of their eyes any longer, they've acquired 1,847,494,273,494,290 MySpace friends out of nowhere, and instead a bunch of tiny fan websites they're all over the NME and - oh yeah - the telly. 'But it's not fair,' you think, eyeing the rows of newbies with their shiny just-acquired albums and wide-eyed excitement. 'I liked them first. They're miiine.' Yeah, it'd be easy to get bitter.
But you know what? Fuck all that. That kind of attitude's for indie snobs - joyless, passionless people who use the phrase 'sold out' in all seriousness, who think Plan B is a bit too mainstream, and who've completely forgotten whatever it was that made them fall in love with music in the first place. And the Towers of London sure as hell aren't that kind of band. They might have been great when they were kicking against an indifferent music media, but they're essentially the punk rock Oasis (Don't believe me? Listen to "How Rude She Was" and then "Look Back In Anger" and see if you can spot the difference) and they're meant to be filling stadiums.
Okay, so the Barfly's not quite an enormodrome, but it's jammed to the rafters and they're evidently loving it, pissing all over the indie snobs in a gleeful waterfall of rockstar poses, crowd-baiting and skyscraper-sized choruses. And everything sounds that little bit bigger, more vital, with the kids down the front singing along to every word. The anthemic highs of "Air Guitar" and "How Rude She Was," "I'm A Rat"'s snarling bravado, those unexpected tender moments in "King" - all utterly brilliant. Even album filler tracks like "Good Times" manage to induce more pogoing than a box full of Zebedees on speed. It's the kind of music you want in your headphones when you're on your way out on a Friday night, the kind that, just for five minutes, stop you caring what anyone else thinks and makes you feel like coolest fucker on the face of the planet, ten feet tall and on top of the world. Sure, it's cartoon punk, it's not intelligent - but it doesn't pretend or need to be. Sometimes those dumb, visceral rock thrills are enough.
Tonight's one of those times. Don't get bitter - get pissed, destroooooy!!!!!
Jess Trash, pix Steve Bateman - more here