Work Those Guns - This Town Needs Guns Live Review - November 2, 2012 at The Borderline

"Shorn down and reinvented as a trio, with the introduction of Henry Tremain as vocalist and all round musical show-off joining the brothers Collis, there’s a definite air of edgy anticipation in the sold out cellar. Will they be as good? Can three really replace more?

Tremain, armed with what looks like a 6 string baritone guitar stands cheerfully at the back of the stage next to his personal sci-fi set of speakers and kicks us off into the mesmerizing Chinchilla. All doubts, if indeed there truly were any, instantly evaporate like a rare gas. The new boy done good. Effortlessly filling Stu Smith’s vocal and Jamie Cooper’s fat stringed shoes in one fell swoop.

The sound is absolutely astonishing. Those white cubes have strong magic within. And, as always, Tim Collis’ unparalleled tapping, sliding, hammering, tickling, caressing and stimulating leaves jaws dropped and eyes popped from the venue’s writhing front to its back pipe.

Collis is in a wonderful world of his own. Like some sort of an autistic über-genius. In a bubble. Deliriously happy. Smiling. Loving it. And the sounds that emanate from his array of Telecasters pimped and modified with all manner of capos and alien tunings defy comparison.

Arpeggios, syncopation, insane time signatures and seemingly mathematically and physically impossible progressions provide the most wonderful swirling, intoxicating and bewildering soundscape for the whispy and light alto vocals and sumptuous melodies. All welded together by the most ridiculously tight and intricate drumming of his bro Chris, delivered almost laconically and apparently effortlessly.

Ok, it’s been said before, and it’s somewhat inevitable; but when a truly original sound or style of playing is alchemically created, there is obviously going to be a risk of everything sounding too samey. There are undeniably moments in This Town Needs Guns' offering that clearly play in the same areas and Collis’ unique and amazing style does inevitably dictate the sound. But it’s a cod and specious criticism. Mr The Edge while fucking around with many racks, boxes, pedals and set ups is instantly identifiable (sorry to mention U2, spit, cough, splutter – it’s only to make a clumsy point). Hell, Vivaldi’s pretty much immediately taggable. As are Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Stanley Jordan, Rory Gallagher and even Tony Iommi.

And TTNG are no different. They’re defining a sound. Owning it. Creating it. And tonight, it’s goosebump-inducingly brilliant. True virtuosity but with delicious song-craft and melodic beauty. The new tunes, including the fabulous Cat Fantastic sound huge and whet the appetite even more for the forthcoming new long player.

This lot are truly original. Beyond definition or even comparison. Certainly above simplistic categorization. There are post-rock moments. Definite mathy bits. Proggy overtones. Jazzy and classical constructs. But on the whole, you just have to settle for delightful, delicious and definitely one of the gigs of the year.

Oh, and they even did a spine-tingly unplugged, sit down acoustic coda at the end with the whole venue sitting like dutiful kids at school assembly.

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