Turin Brakes, a modern folk duo comprising Olly Kights and Gale Paridjanian, never did quite hit the mainstream, always missing out on a number one or even making the front cover of the NME.
Perhaps they were overlooked in the face of the competition, which included the likes of Elbow and Travis. However, it seems more likely that they were unable to develop the same lyrical and musical strength as many others did in the early 2000s, and ten years on little has changed.
Tonight’s set was geared towards a complete live rendition of their debut album, The Optimist. This album was regarded, at the time, as an important and pivotal contribution to the New Acoustic movement but it now lacks such agency. Taken out of its context, the set whimpered through a weak array of songs which were unable to secure any substance or longevity. The album’s initial poignancy has regressed into a musical innocence, as songs such as Emergency 72 and Future Boy highlight the band’s loyalty to the past, rather than developing a sturdier future.
Although musically accomplished, there is nothing original in their songs, as they merge from one to another, lacking any distinguishable features. This slippery, superficial nature means there is little to grapple with, which is frustrating, as there is a beautiful fragility which never fully emerges. The band has lost sight of priorities, avoiding their potential and becoming defined by their blandness.
This lack of initial impact is rectified, to an extent, in the second half, which explores a wider variety of songs, including their biggest hit, Painkillers. There is an obvious drive and intent which had been hiding beneath the comfort of their older musical past.
Turin Brakes are no longer in their heyday and it shows. The gig was predictable, and instead of taking risks, the band played it safe with a weary and outdated set. As a performance, the lack of movement or enthusiasm explains why this once-underrated band may never fulfil their promise.