Everyone's favourite party rockers captured at their energetic best.
With Bradford’s finest party rockers, there’s always one word that comes to mind and that’s bounce. You just can’t fail to bounce at a Terrorvision gig. Even if you’re a stalwart non-mover, the chances are that a couple of chords into a live set you’ll be trampolining like a total nutter, putting your knee joints in jeopardy, possibly wrecking your Achilles tendons beyond repair. And you won’t care. Because whatever state you’re in the next day it’ll all have been worth it to have had that much ridiculously sweaty, lung-rupturing, cheesy-grinning fun. Who even knew you had the stamina?
This film, which follows the band’s 2016 tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of the album Regular Urban Survivors, absolutely nails the likeable fivesome at their bounciest best. Directed by long-term fan Lee Brooks and crowd-funded through Pledge Music, the footage is as full of beans as you’d expect, frontman and archetypal cheeky chappy Tony Wright as usual expending enough calories to make Joe Wicks look like a fairly serious couch-dweller. These days, Wright says, the band have as much fun watching the crowd as they ever did being in a crowd watching a band. And the camera work, cutting between viewpoints, captures the heart of that mutual appreciation.
The thing is, if the term ‘crowd-pleasing’ didn’t exist, then Terrorvision would have invented it. It’s true, as bassist and founding member Leigh Marklew points out, that they’ve often been branded, unfairly, as ‘boombastic’ or ‘a bit dumb.’ But it’s also true that what seems musically simple is often deceptively so: when guitarist Mark Yates talks about perfecting the arrangements to make sure the live sound does justice to the album, you get some insight into the work and skill that lies beneath all the feelgood frolics. Still, there’s no denying the punch-the-air choruses and the quirky refrains you can somehow still remember after however many beers. Who wouldn’t want to bawl out lines like ‘Whales and dolphins, whales and dolphins, YEAH!’ back to a lead singer who’s just landed full-force on his knees but who’s somehow still grinning insanely?
The audio for the film was taken from the Manchester gig and, as ever, the band are a much rockier prospect live: from the chaos of Enteralterego to the bump and grind of Easy to the lyrically sinister Hide the Dead Girl it's a tuneful ride that’s been toughened to the max, not least by a super-hefty rhythm section completed by Cameron Greenwood (who replaced original drummer Ian Shuttleworth), at one point seen clutching his ribs in agony having put in some extra-aggressive moves. But the next night he’s back doing exactly the same again. Sometimes, he says, it’s as if he gets ‘drumming Tourette’s.’ From the facial expressions of each band member, it’s clear they all buy in to the idea that this is extreme cardio at its most cheerful. And Wright frequently compliments the crowd on being 'Shit 'ot!'
What could have sat awkwardly between live performance film and traditional rock documentary ends up being the best of both worlds. Hilariously, and sometimes touchingly, the off-stage footage highlights the bond that has seen the band through the decades. From the evidence here, they really do still seem to get on. As Wright says, they’ve been an item so long that ‘you couldn’t fall out with one person without falling out with yourself.’ It’s not hard to see how their Northern down-to-earthness has added to their lasting appeal: if there are any egos here, they keep themselves well-hidden. Recalling the band’s partnership with Pixies producer Gil Norton, who worked on both Regular Urban Survivors and their preceding album How to Make Friends and Influence People, they are characteristically self-deprecating: ‘We tainted his CV,’ Marklew says.
Yet there’s plenty of indication that the party band reputation is still at least partly justified. Marklew catalogues the booze on the tour bus, commenting that it’ll be topped up later because ‘that’s not even going to touch the sides’ while Wright admits, quite proudly, that he doesn’t remember most of the Nineties and ‘quite cleverly I’ve not learned anything since.’ Mark Yates recounts the famous ankle-shattering incident where Wright, having being wined and dined with the rest of the band at the Hard Rock Café, thought it would be a good idea to get the ‘H’ off the name so that it said ‘Ard’ like a Yorkshire accent. ‘So he climbed up the wall and fell off,” Yates says. ‘And he never got the H either.’
Elsewhere, there’s everything from the band’s ‘mannequin challenge’ – describing it in full would only spoil the fun – practised in Southampton and perfected in London, a forensically-detailed visit to a kebab shop and a late-night rendition of a Beatles classic in the style of Slayer. Oh, and a practical joke that means you might want to think twice before washing your hands in the toilets at a Terrorvision gig.
All in all, it’s an accurate and fondly-crafted representation of a band that never fails to entertain. After all these years, they’re probably more loveable than ever. And – thank God – they still have all the bounce they ever had, broken ankles notwithstanding.
See 'Wired Up and Scary' here.
More about Terrorvision here.