Gig Review -TV21


TV21, Cabaret Voltaire, Edinburgh, July 9.

As has been well documented, TV21 were one of the post-punk bands out of Scotland in the early 1980s. They were part of a scottish post-punk scene that also included the Scars and the Prats, and most famously, Simple Minds. They formed in 1979 in Ayrshire and split in 1982, the day after they supported the Rolling Stones in Edinburgh at the Playhouse, leaving behind some brilliant singles, and an album, The Thin Red Line, now available as part of the compilation Snakes and Ladders. They reformed in October 2005 for a gig commemorating the legendary John Peel, and things have gone from there. The line-up remains the same, with the exception of drummer Simon McGlynn who joined for the 2005 gig.

I knew the name, of course, but clikced with TV21 more when they released their first album in 28 years (and their second album ever), Forever 22 last year. What is clear, as Cabaret Voltaire fills up nicely thank you, is that while there are people who have followed them since the early days, there are also people (younger than my 33 years in some cases) who have cottoned onto them. Despite the non-appearance of one of the scheduled support bands, TV21 tear into an extended set.

And it’s clear that they are enjoying themslves. The set comprises material from both albums, and the crowd are into it, though being Edinburgh, of course, we don’t quite let ourselves go as a crowd. Songs from the earlier era like ‘On the Run (Whose Gonna Get Me First?)’ and ‘Snakes and Ladders’ mix well with material from last year, not least the title track of ‘Forever 22.’ If you haven’t heard this song yet, think a more positive, if more wistful take on the subject matter of the ‘Boys of Summer.’

There’s been a big post-punk revival in recent years, which has had a major impact on the ‘indie scene’ (such as it is) over the last five years. What’s also clear is a case of plus ca change la meme chose with the despair at a Tory government of ‘What’s Going On?’ just as pertinent now as it was nearly three decades ago. But it’s worth noting that this is a band firing on all cylinders, and singer Norman Rodger with trusty foils Ally Palmer on guitar and Neil Baldwin on bass can work a crowd. I didn’t see them in 1979-1982 -and it really doesn’t matter. I’ve seen them in 2010 (twice -they played this venue two months ago as part of Tigerfest), and that’s something great to have witnessed.

They finish with the cool-as…rockabilly of ‘When Cole Was King’ (sic) and the sense is that here is a band who came back and still matter. Not least is the significance that they can finish with a new song rather than just trottin out the numbers of old. Catch them when you can.

Snakes and Ladders: Almost Complete 1980-1982 is out now on Rev-Ola and Forever 22 is out on Powbeat. Do yourself a favour and buy them both.

TV21 -‘On the Run.’ mp3

Album Review: TV21


TV21 -‘Forever 22’ (Powbeat Records)

It’s been well-documented how long some bands have taken to make records. It took The Stone Roses five years to follow up their eponymous debut with The Second Coming. In a twenty-five year career, The Blue Nile have made only four albums. To date, Mary Margaret O’Hara has made only one album.

Whether TV21 should be added to this list or not is perhaps a moot point. After all, it has been twenty eight years since their debut A Thin Red Line. Then again, the band split up in 1982, the day after they supported the Rolling Stones at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. They reformed for a John Peel memorial gig in 2005 and have been gigging ever since, with three of the four original members (the newcomer on the drumseat is Simon McGlynn).

So…having been playing live over the last four years, the band release their second album. Is it any good? In a word, yes. Put this way, since it arrived earlier in the week, I’ve played it at least four times, twice of which were today. Back to back. That’s a vote of confidence, I think.

It’s an album of two halves, eleven new tracks and eight tracks from the first part of their career. It doesn’t re-write the rulebook, but it doesn’t set out. It’s just a hugely entertaining album, with great songs. These actually seem to work well back to back. As the repeated plays might suggest, I find it rather addictive. And there’s many bands from today who would benefit from listening to this lean, well-oiled machine before feeling the need to go completely OTT. ‘Too Late For me Now’ ‘Look To the Sun’ and the title track particularly strong songs that more than hold their own with many of the younger generation. ‘Through Different Eyes’ suggests that both they and Franz Ferdinand have been borrowing from each other.

I’ve only heard bits of their stuff in the past, so I’m not in a position to compare them to how they were the first time around. I am convinced, though, that this set is strong enough to win them new fans.

Welcome back, folks.


TV 21’s Myspace (five of the songs can be streamed here)

The album is available on CD now, from Avalanche Edinburgh or here