The Lantern in the Colston Hall was the perfect venue for Tunng to perform in. Entering the room, I was surrounded by people sitting on the floor waiting for the band to take to the stage. There were groups of friends, relatives and couples from all age ranges, sat crossed legged on the floor talking. The vintage carpet and cream walls created the perfect, friendly and homely atmosphere for a band like Tunng.
Tunng’s current tour is in support of their newest album, Turbines. The record focuses on a make believe world that’s full of strange characters and fantastical happenings, from So Far From Here’s spirited travellers (“the mountains passed, they disappeared to the black…”) to the shamanic camp-fire crazies of Embers. Tunng managed to bring this make believe world to life at the Bristol show. Being in the room transported you away from reality and into another, more pleasant dream-like world.
Tunng started the gig with the beginning track from Turbines, Once. Once has great harmonies with the higher harmonies sending a shiver down your spine. These were fully excelled in the live performance. The chorus “Sin before your life time’s over…Sin before you see…” has wonderfully layered harmonies that make it an instantly unforgettable line, proven by the amount of people who were singing along. It has an almost mesmerising quality to it which became apparent as the audience seemed captivated from the first second.
The next track performed was the single, So Far From Here which gradually builds into a solid, all round wonderful track. With the sudden change in tempo and the jerky beat that accompanies “And we’ll run…”, this song suits being performed live. People were happily singing and swaying along to this track. The song begins with quite a dramatic and filmic approach with the immediacy and power being fully portrayed in Tunng’s live version.
So Far From Here was shiftly followed by The Village, another track from the band’s recent album, Turbines. The Village perked the gig up with its chirpy melodies and danceable beat. Then the band switched to perform a few older tracks such as The Roadside and Tale From Black (which tells the story of an old lady who enjoys killing people…) before returning to the newer songs By This, Bloodlines and Embers.
Embers saw Tunng produce a breath taking version of this song. The harmonies were outstanding and fully emphasised when they sang the opening lines, “We get out and walk/We get out and walk away/Got to step to step/Guiding you to step to step this way…”
Trip Trap also featured on the band’s set list. Trip Trap slowly builds to expose weird, jerky beats that give it an unusual sound. The line, “She is sweet she is sour/A poisonous flower/We, we’ll trip trap discover/That she will change by the hour…” had the whole room singing at the top of their voices. From the first note of this song, a cheer of joy filled the room.
When Tunng performed By Dusk They Were In The City, guitarist and lead singer, Mike Lindsay, get shot of his acoustic guitar, frantically grabbed the electric guitar off his band mate and rocked out. It was a complete change from the rest of the set which saw him donning the usual acoustic guitar. Lindsay was soloing and shredding as if he belonged to a hard-core rock band. He had a foot on the monitor at one point, holding his guitar into the air. When handing the electric guitar back to its owner, he confessed in his exertions that he had managed to break a string. By Dusk They Were In The City received the biggest applause of the evening – I believe it was completely down to Lindsay showing off with humorous effect.
Tunng rejoined the stage for the encore performing Woodcat and Bullets which was a wonderful song to finish on.
During the whole gig, people were dancing and singing along in an incredibly happy and cheerful mood. Tunng were chatty and comfortable with their audience. It felt like you were watching your five best friends performing with a small group of your friends as their audience. There was no them and us – we were all one in the room sharing an experience. It was a really lovely atmosphere. I can safely say I’ve never experienced an atmosphere like that at a gig before.
If you love Tunng, they are a band you should see live at least once. Their records don’t do them the justice they deserve. There is something captivating about their live performances which help to make their songs come to life in a way that’s not possible on records.