Where Old Ghosts Meet

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Back to basics on a secret tour of Scotland...

After the fireworks have fizzled out, all that’s left is the bounce. Last time they toured Britain, Terrorvision blew EMI money on spangly suits and pyrotechnics. This time all such visual distractions have gone, and it’s about simpler pleasures.

Yet there’s still a sense of urgency to the age-old refrain of letting the music speak for itself. For starters there’s lost ground to claw back from the Reefs, the Feeders and all the other pretenders who sprang up in their absence, and then there’s the briefly vacated Imperial Throne of Gonk Rock to reclaim.

This, then, is a return to basics: a secret, frill-free tour of Scotland and the type of sweaty toilets that spawned them in the first place. It’s also a chance to road-test new keyboardist Jo, play a greatest hits set, a smattering of newies, and take a trip back to pre-history with ‘My House’.

While they’ve been away, Terrorvision have become consummate showbiz performers, avoiding sounding smarmy despite all the “Aberdeen’s the best!” banter, while simultaneously sawing through the first four rows with Donington-style intensity. And for such pure entertainment value alone, you can forgive them the odd transgression into bad taste (notably the moment when ‘Pretend Best Friend’ descends into boogie-rock vacancy, thereby narrowing the gap between them and Status Quo considerably).

There’s more than just sheer gonzoid riffing though – they’ve got a pop nous that sees the unreconstructed ‘Dog Chewed The Handle’ sit happily next to the doo-wop overload of ‘Oblivion’ – but musically at least their future is almost identical to the past. ‘Babyface’ and ‘Hypnotise’, from their imminent fourth album, are ever more elastic progressions on an already well-worked theme, and only new single ‘Josephine’ is a real surprise – relating as it does a tale of taking your best friend as a lover after he’s undergone a sex change. All of which means Tony Wright has either been swapping nail-varnish tips with Brian Molko, or he’s just taking the piss.

The latter is probably favourite. Because despite the possibility of burgeoning sexual ambiguity, Terrorvision are primarily about non-threatening fun. As ‘Perseverance’ threatens to lift the venue from its foundations and send it pogoing into the North Sea, to deny the fact they are the funniest, finest exponents of rock would be churlish. The bounce is back. Fancy distractions are not required.