Bristol Fleece & Firkin, Sunday 18th July

The Fleece, one of the UK's first Firkin pubs, is tucked away down a side street a short walk from Bristol's city centre. It's a spit-and-sawdust pub with high ceilings, exposed beams and a stone floor. It's friendly staff will serve you a mind-bending West Country ale called "Sheepdip", but will limit you to 6 pints - "It's for your own good". It also happens to be Bristol's best live music venue.

Uusally host to smaller bands, tonight TCTC are playing a warm-up gig before joining Mogwai, Interpol, Melissa Auf der Maur and a host of other goth tinged bands on The Cure's "Curiosa" festival jaunt around America.

There's a great atmoshpere amongst the crowd, and as the band stand offstage but in full view, everyone's hyped in anticipation. Having seen them twice before, but only as a support band, I'm really looking forward to a full set. I also have a great vantage point - propped at the bar but only just out of the small moshpit, mere yards from the stage and menacingly close to the speaker stack

As the band take to the stage, chants of "Daaan Austin!" fill the air, welcoming the band's producer to the fold. He'll be standing in for usual bassist Didz in the US, but tonight he shares duties on some songs.

And they plough straight in. It's hard and fast from the outset. Roaring through "Blind Pilots", "New Toys", " The Same Mistakes" and the awesome "Music Box" from second album "Kick Up the Flames And Let the Fire Break Loose" and the atmospheric "Film Maker", the blitzkreig strobe-out of "Panzer Attack" and personal favourite "Let's Kill Music" from debut "See this Through and Leave". They also play "Murder Song" which is apparently a rare event these days, and gets an appropriately delirious reaction.

The band are crammed onto the small stage and it's singer Ben Gautrey and bassist Didz who share the majority of the limelight, standing centre stage. As the moshpit intensifies and the crowdsurfing starts, they dodge flailing limbs, screaming lyrics into the writhing front rows as the band relentlessly groove and the strobe lights blast away.

It's a great show, but I'm left wondering. TCTC are in a strange position right now. A good few years and two albums in, numerous small tours completed, yet still more often the support band rather than the headline act. An act this good, this polished deserves more. Are they another in the long list of Great British Also-Rans? I hope not...

Richy [ July 21st, 2004 ]

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