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Turin Brakes - Slim's, San Francisco, 17/6/2003

  by Chris Jones

published: 1 / 7 / 2003

Turin Brakes - Slim's, San Francisco, 17/6/2003


Long-term Turin Brakes fan Chris Jones watches the Balham duo play a perfect intimate set at Slim's, a medium-sized venue in San Francisco

I realized quite some time ago that I really don't like going to concerts at large venues, so when I learned that Turin Brakes were coming to San Francisco for the first time and that they were going to be playing at Slim's I knew I had to go to see them. I'd describe Slim's as a medium sized club that has the feel and intimacy of a smaller venue while giving people adequate space to not feel squashed. The sound there is quite good and never so loud that you have to wear earplugs. In short, it was the perfect place for Turin Brakes to bring their acoustic tour. I got to the club about an hour before the doors opened and stood around with 5 or 6 other early birds. We were all treated to a bit of a preview of the show, as we could hear Turin Brakes going through their soundcheck. I'll have to admit that I feared they wouldn't sound nearly as good live as they do on their albums, but that fear was definitely unwarranted! Even from outside the club they sounded dead on. Two hours later Turin Brakes showed the whole crowd just how well they can sing and play live. Olly Knights and Gale Paridjanian sat on opposite sides of the stage with Dave Palmer and his keyboards in between. They opened up with 'Blue Hour' off their second and latest album, 'Ether Song', and right away it was obvious that this was going to be a great show. When most bands do acoustic versions of their songs, they tend to simplify and mellow them out leaving them feeling a bit bare. Turin Brakes, on the other hand, seemed to let loose the guitars. They charged things up quite a bit from the album versions, almost as if they were doing a studio jam session. Dave Palmer helped further the jam session feel with both his demeanour and keyboard playing. He really added to the songs and seemed to be having a good time, despite the claim that he was a bit out of it because of some anti-histamines he had taken. and while it had that jam session feel to me, they played so flawlessly that if one hadn't heard the songs before they'd have no reason to believe that this was so different. The vocals were also freed up, which to me showed just how well Olly can sing. I mean, I wasn't sure if he would actually be able to sing as well live as he does on the album, but not only could he match the album, he could top it. there was such great energy in his voice, even on the mellower songs like 'Self Help' and 'Feeling Oblivion', that when they turned things up on songs like 'Slack' and 'Pain Killer' it felt like a rock show. He even let out a bit of a scream in one song that somehow managed to seem perfectly at place. If Turin Brakes ever puts out a live album or a Peel Session it would be a real treat. In fact, they sounded so good I wish I had a tape of this show.... Throughout the show the vibe between the crowd and the band was perfect too. The people interacted with the band between songs and they were quiet during them. Olly and Gale seemed quite relaxed and told some funny stories between songs. They joked about Gale's visa problems that stopped them from touring the US earlier - he was born in Iran - and told us about a fan in LA who said he really connected with them and the song 'Pain Killer". Apparently this guy and his girlfriend like to stick a gun in each others mouths while having sex and they really related to the line "she gives me so much love that it blows my brains out". Welcome to California, Turin Brakes. and speaking of California, they also mentioned a few times how much they liked it here and how the song 'Stone Thrown' was written after looking at the ocean during their LA recording sessions. Guess that gives me one reason to like LA. Overall, this was definitely one the better shows I've been to. Turin Brakes played loose and free, but still hit all the notes. The fact that their acoustic set had so much energy makes me wonder how they are live with a full band behind them?!? They played songs from both their first album 'The Optimist" and also 'Ether Song" which made waiting a few years to seem them live seem not as bad. They also played at a venue that really matched their sound and personality well and they played to a crowd that really seemed to be there to see Turin Brakes. Hopefully they felt that way about it too, because next time they play in Northern California I really hope they play at a club like Slim's again. Set List : Blue Hour Five Miles High (New Song) Stone Thrown State Of Things Feeling Oblivion Self Help Slack The Door Pain Killer (Summer Rain) Rain City Future Boy Underdog (Save Me) Mind Over Money Emergency 72 (Super Extended Version)

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Turin Brakes - Slim's, San Francisco, 17/6/2003

Turin Brakes - Slim's, San Francisco, 17/6/2003

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