Live Review: The Twang & The Effenaar – The Leadmill, Sheffield



Two things are for certain in the run-up to the end of the year, Christmas is coming but even better than that, Brum legends The Twang will be blowing the roofs off some of your favourite live music venues. On Friday (24/11) it was the second gig of the tour and Sheffield’s most famous venue with the legendary neon sign, The Leadmill that would host this blow out. Support came from The Effenaar.

It’s been over 16 years since the band released their debut album ‘Love It When I Feel Like This‘ and still to this day it remains one of those albums that still sounds as relevant and as important as the first time hearing it. In that time, The Twang have always been around and never really split up, whereas a lot of the bands from that era have split and returned, some of those multiple times. With a band that sticks around, that also creates a more dedicated fan base. The Twang gigs are different, everybody is there because they are diehards and really into the band, some other gigs, especially reunion ones, can be stale due to the band being a fad or an Insta-like you have to be seen at that gig.

When the doors opened, there was a real buzz around and chat about The Effenaar, for those who don’t know, these are a fellow Birmingham duo who The Twang‘s frontman Phil has been buzzing over.

This time last year, The Effenaar released their debut album ‘Ways Longest‘, an album which is definitely up there with the top albums released over the last year. Amazingly, these are only the first gigs for the duo with their debut headline gig only taking place a week before at Dead Wax in Birmingham for Away Day Radio. Not really knowing what to expect, I, for one, was buzzing about what was to come.

The Effenaar took to the stage and set the tone perfectly with a sound that’s crafted for these darker backstreet venues. A moody atmosphere, a kind of mix between The Twang and Sleaford Mods. With the band only being a duo, it’s down to highly skilled, multi-instrumentalist Danny Pullar who provides the beats and everything else but the vocals, that’s down to Darren Houghton, they were both a mesmerizing watch, especially on the louder and heavier tracks like ‘Andriod‘ and ‘Noia‘, Pullar would be beavering away and Houghton would like he was hypnotized when he lost himself in the lyrics, almost like he was being exorcised. ‘High Horses‘ is possibly the track that will stick around most for a first-time listener, and this provided a bit of break in the atmosphere during the set.

Earlier this year saw the band release a double A-side single ‘Urges / Shift‘, these see the band go in a more dance direction and ‘Shift‘ definitely got the feet to shuffle on the sticky dance floor. If this is the way they are heading, I can’t wait for album number two, and there is no way I won’t be getting stuck in on their next tour.

With The Twang, they have the core members Phil Etheridge, Jon Watkin, Stuart Hartland and Grandmaster Ash Sheehan. During the gigs for the band’s last album ‘If Confronted Just Go Mad‘, they were also joined by Cat Mctigue and Rio Hellyer, this produced a different dimension to The Twang.

At The Leadmill, it was the core members who were the ones to provide the entertainment, the moment they walked on stage you could tell by that line up that this was going to be a direct and boisterous gig.

Opening with debut single ‘Wide Awake‘, Phil Etheridge came bouncing out with as much enthusiasm as he did back in 2007 when ‘Love It When I Feel Like This‘ was released, it’s always a good sign that a band is still enjoying their craft just as much as the fans still relish in these tunes.

The mood changed slightly when the more Balearic driven ‘Barney Rubble‘ came next, giving the now crammed in crowd a chance for a shuffle and a shoulder jig.

The Twang were well known for having two frontmen, but in 2018 Martin Saunders left the band. After this time, it was difficult to see how the band would carry on, but after a shuffle of the pack including the ladies joining, Jon stepped up to the plate and took over the Saunders’ parts, lucky for us, Jon does an incredible job of this. During the gig this was most prominent during ‘Encouraging Sign‘, with this track also being one of the things Twang fans adore the band for too, the way they can switch through contrasting emotions with ‘Encouraging Sign‘ getting the crowd loved up with hugs flying around to ‘Mainline‘ the bands most angry and politically charged song, then into ‘Got Me Sussed‘ getting the testosterone pumping, the band create a true roller coaster of emotions.

As the band weren’t touring an album release, they only played one original song from their last album, this was ‘It Feels Like (You’re Wasting My Time)‘, with 4th album ‘Neon Twang‘ being ignored completely in favor of the more classic tunes. This is where the two biggest singalongs came with ‘Either Way‘, especially the “I LOVE YA!‘ part and, of course, big fan favourite ‘Two Lovers‘ also gets the crowd most united.

With the encore, two covers came, The Blue Nile’s ‘Tinseltown in the Rain’ and the setlist staple of ‘Drinking In L.A.’ by Bran Van 3000. These came before one last blow out the band’s two most wild tunes, ‘Guapa‘ and ‘Cloudy Room‘.

Guapa‘, with its Wild West like guitar build from Stu is a tune I’ve always said to be the perfect live track because when it explodes, it goes off more than it does in the Saloon bars in the Wild West, the eerie whistling adds to the tense atmosphere. It is a true tradition for The Twang to finish with debut album closer ‘Cloudy Room‘, A tale about a typical unplanned night out that goes right to closing time, having seen The Twang on many occasions, something about The Leadmill crowd seemed a lot more savage during this track, well, during the whole gig too.

These gigs are always the best end of year blow outs for the geezers who need excitement away from the mundane working life, not only that, the passion the band put into these shows, you can see that The Twang need these blow outs just as much as us fans too.

I, for one, walked away slightly wobbly, dazed and a bit winded, am I getting too old for it?… Never! See you next year!

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