sat 23/03/2019

Tunng, The Lexington | reviews, news & interviews

Tunng, The Lexington

Tunng, The Lexington

The folktronic six-piece beef up their sound touring new album Turbines

Tunng: peculiar

When Tunng started out in 2005, they were a peculiar proposition. Treading a fine line between Heath Robinson ramshackle and meticulous high-tech, ancient and hyper-modern, bone percussion and glitchy electronic sparkles, they certainly deserved the then-popular term “folktronica”. Though their melodies were unerringly catchy, their lyrics were so out-there, their lineup so unorthodox and their sound so psychedelic it was never likely they'd be more than a cult act.

So why, last night, did they bring nothing to mind so much as Fleetwood Mac or Paul McCartney's Wings? Their new, fifth, album Turbines, is the closest they've ever come to sounding like a conventional band with guitars upfront, maybe inspired by their jamming with Malian desert rockers Tinariwen, but it didn't prepare us for the size of their sound on stage. Currently a six-piece, Tunng are beefed up with a full kit drummer for the first time, and made full use of him, all playing with huge confidence and turning their sound into something on the cusp of prog and stadium soft rock.

Becky Jacobs of TunngStarting off with Turbines songs, the band played like old hands, their boy-boy-girl harmony vocals and standard band instrumentation locked uncannily well with the odd samples and synthesiser ripples. It felt like the Tunng sound of old was still present, only hiding inside a new, additional superstructure, their delicate strangeness visible through the spaces in the performance.

This kind of transformation can be a kiss of death for electronica-centred acts – the litany of acts I've seen who feel they should get a drummer in for live performance only to turn the beautifully programmed rhythms of their recordings into something clunkingly conventional is long – but Tunng carried it off. The deadpan presence of singer Becky Jacobs (pictured above right) playing off more flamboyant main songwriter Mike Lindsay has always been engaging, but they and the rest of the band seemed extra fired up, and the sound fizzed with passion.

In this context, older songs like “Woodcat”, “Tale From Black” and “Hustle” also sounded immense – their hooks the match for any band currently operating, and the newly boosted dynamics sounding purpose-engineered for larger festival stages. In fact, there were weird moments when they felt like the anti-Mumford and Sons, with all the rousing sense of scale of the band that they and the rest of the folktronica / nu-folk generation helped to set the stage for, but none of the glib simplicity and evangelical hey-wow-guys empty gestures. There may only have been 200-odd people in the crowd but as they chanted along to an encore of “Bullets”, the fantastical idea of Tunng as stadium band didn't seem quite so peculiar.

Watch Tunng's "The Village" video


There were weird moments when they felt like the anti-Mumford and Sons

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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