That Petrol Emotion + The Dukes Jetty + This Burning Age @ Academy 2, Birmingham – 1st July 2009


“We’re not doing this for the money — we’re doing it because we love playing for you guys” – a good job too because it takes dedication to put in a blistering performance on one of the hottest days of the year. The Academy 2 is like a reverse TARDIS; it always seems smaller on the inside and gets hot and sweaty very quickly and tonight was no exception. Unfortunately it had the effect of sapping the energy from the crowd so the bands were received by an audience in a state of torpor. Not that any of the three, and in particular That Petrol Emotion let that get in the way, and the bar at least did a roaring trade!


Support bands have hard enough job most of the time but tonight it may have been a case of right bands wrong venue. This Burning Age delivered their Interpol meets Sonic Youth “alt-electro-rock” to a handful of early birds when they really deserved more attention with End Game and The Last Day standing out. All good thoughtful stuff but maybe a bit dark for an oppressive night and even they thanked the crowd for hanging around in the heat.

The Dukes Jetty are certainly a bit more chipper, all indie tunes and Beatles harmonies, well suited to Radio 1 where the Rugby-based band are making an impression these days. Unfortunately there were not that many kids in evidence so songs like the single Oh Girl and You’ve lost Your Head from their debut album Fine & Dandy found a polite and older audience more intent on standing back and saving energy than getting stuck in. They recently played the Academy 3 supporting The Joy Formidable where their catchy songs and Alex Zane looky-likey bass player apparently met a more appreciative bunch as a crowd!


Always underrated and for the most part ignored That Petrol Emotion ought to have been huge; certainly bigger than some of the lesser talents of the late 80s and early 90s who proved commercially more successful, not mentioning any names.

I have to declare an interest here because TPE are one of my favourite bands even though I have not seen them enough over the years; maybe not the best position to be in as a reviewer, but there you go. But even the most biased observer would have classed tonight as an excellent return on the first date of their 2009 tour. In spite of tales of Ciaran McLaughlin’s forgotten cymbals put down to age and senility, dealing with dodgy iPod loops mixed with some good humoured Steve Mack technophobia “iPod shit”, and a couple of gremlins they hit all their albums in the set and even found the energy to end the gig by changing the list on the fly.


They have always been something of a force of nature live; Steve Mack particularly so. They drive themselves and the crowd along with the familiar angular chords and pointed lyrics all punctuated by the frontman leaping around giving the tambourine more welly than Roger Chapman and tonight wrecking stage lighting in the process.

In comparison the crowd were really reserved through the likes of Gnaw Mark and Shangri-la until Big Decision raised it’s head when all the energy from the stage started to infect those down at the front. There was no mosh; people couldn’t bear to be any hotter, buts loads of enthusiasm and singing along were the order of the day. Maybe it was due to the the familiarity of the song but at least by then the whole place had come to life.

The mixture of rock, indie pop and more experimental dance and sample influences that comprises a TPE set are perhaps another indicator of why they remain a cult phenomenon. These guys are not easy to pin down. That’s not to say that there is anything haphazard about the musicianship. As a band they are tight-knit and play with a huge energy and intensity and songs like It’s a Good Thing, Mouth Crazy and Hey Venus were perfect illustrations.


The hotter it grew the more frenetic the playing building up to Abandon and Scum Surfin’ before we had to give the band “a couple of minutes” after which they returned for the encore topped with an unexpected but storming Detonate My Dreams.

So then a great gig was over all too soon. There could have been more people there but that didn’t matter. For the band it’s on to the likes of The Wedgwood and Rescue Rooms, both hard bitten indie venues where no doubt they’ll meet the same devoted and appreciative, if hopefully less sparse, crowds.


A big shout has to go out to the on-stage roadie who juggled guitars, sorted out iPods and effects pedals and kept an eye on everything in spite of the increasing temperature throughout the set. Each song saw another layer of clothing removed and we almost expected him to be down to his skiddies by the end of the night.

And if anyone wants TPE to play in their back garden then apparently Steve Mack is just an e-mail away — I kid you not!


Set list

Blue To Black
Gnaw Mark
It’s A Good Thing
Big Decision
Last of the True Believers
Mouth Crazy
Catch A Fire
Hey Venus
Scum Surfin’
Sweet Shiver Burn

Detonate My Dreams

Review – Ian Gelling

Photos – Steph Colledge

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4 thoughts on “That Petrol Emotion + The Dukes Jetty + This Burning Age @ Academy 2, Birmingham – 1st July 2009

  1. Great pictures of a great gig. TPE really should’ve been huge, personally I think they were ahead of their time and that’s why not a lot of people ‘got’ them.
    Fantastic gig, great set and brilliant sound. The venue is awful, first (and probably last time I venture there) and at nearly £4 for a pint the sooner the new place opens the better!

  2. Great review, great evening! And I was down the front jumping around like a lunatic even if no one else was !!! Can’t wait to see them again – make sure you come to Bristol next time Petrols xxx

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