The Tunics @ Birmingham Barfly – 11th April 2008

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The Tunics are a band from Croydon who really do their local tourist information centre no favours. With lyrics often centering on knife crime, mugging and general thuggishness juxtaposed with the occasional subtle love song there is a slight bitterness to their upbeat, fast paced songs. The band open with the distortion tinged Ballad of Brian McGee, Joe the 18-year old lead singer’s croydon accent heavy on the words. After a verse however this becomes more comfortable to listen to and is easily distinguishable from other ‘young singers’ of today (i.e The View, One Night Only.)

As the set continues with more well known tune ‘The Cost of Living’ it becomes apparent that this band should never be used in the same sentence as the aforementioned bands. There is a sense of striking fluidity to the lyrics and thankfully not a single ‘baby’ to be heard. Despite being a three piece (guitar, bass, drums) the band create a big wall of sound (the unfortunate factor being that most of the audience were present to see a much older band who specialised in playing established band’s songs and singing their own words…). Certain songs sounded more refreshing live, such as the thunderous chorus of ‘Fade Out’ and others sound better on the studio version such as ‘The Cost of Living’ which sounded slightly hollower than on their recording.


As the band only had a half hour set there was little time for the audience to react and warm to the band which was a shame because I felt they could have used a more active crowd to their advantage. The band came across as fairly charismatic despite not having much to correspond with. Seemingly not having a concrete setlist meant that the band did not play some of their catchiest songs such as ‘In the City’ which was a shame as this is a punchy song that would have worked in getting the crowd’s attention. Perhaps the band wanted their audience to focus more on their sensitive side rather than their slightly scary experiences of living in Croydon.

Since the rise of the Arctic Monkeys (who share the same producer as The Tunics.) there will inevitably be comparisons. However, lyrics about suburban living and singing in dialect was the product of 90’s britpop. Hopefully when their new album ‘Somewhere in Somebody’s Heart’ is released people will realise that and not be so quick to make comparison.

Review & Photo – Frankie Ward

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