Tijuana Bibles are a tight unit, something you’d expect from a bunch of guys who pretty much spend every waking moment together, and it shows onstage. Sometimes it goes beyond the music that’s being belted out with fervour and drive. You can see it in their eyes.
They’ve produced some of the best new material of recent times, which is recognised by their nomination for Best Newcomer at the 2014 SAMAs. Tonight, it was on show for those who’d brought along their tickets from the original gig which was cut down to a 4 song set due to some technical issues at the venue in January. For those who didn’t make the original date but were able to come along tonight, what a lucky bunch of folk!
We knew what we could expect from Tijuana Bibles from our previous trips to see them do their thing onstage but tonight there was a sense of something bigger, something special. Something that made the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. You could feel it in the musty air inside Tuts, the folk mulling around between the last support and the main act all knew it. There was a force building in the dressing room above the bar, a force that was going to blow each and every person in the place to smithereens and leave them wanting more.
From the second the guys strutted out onto the stage looking more confident than ever, you just knew it was going to kick off and by God, it did. Even before the first note was played, Tony was pacing about like a caged wild animal with that look on his face; you know the one that screams “I am about to fuck this shit up!”, aye, that look. At that moment I felt bad for the tambourine in his hand, it had no chance of surviving the full three and a half minutes of opener ‘Last of the Go Getters’. And it didn’t. About three-quarters of the way through it was discarded beyond the drum kit via the stage floor.
The crowd was really up for this show and it definitely added to what was a stonker of a set. There’s not many things that can be considered better than the feeling of being caught up in live music and tonight there were a couple of moments where you felt like you were looking down on yourself enjoying what was being played out in front of your eyes. Everything clicked. There were no broken guitar strings. No near misses with flying tambourine parts. No PA failures. Nothing was going to stop Tijuana Bibles from rocking the place to its foundations. Behn and Mikey pulling the rhythm in close, guiding the set along with precision and pace. James looking like he was possessed by Hendrix, kicking out guitar licks like a beast and Tony playing the frontman to perfection with his growling vocals.
You got the feeling that the let-down of the cancelled gig in January had fueled the band. It’s as if they had something to prove and even though they were giving some airtime to a couple of unheard tracks from the upcoming EP they didn’t let up and it all felt very familiar amongst the backdrop of the regular live hits like ‘Howlin’ Moon’, Runnin’ Red Fruit’ and the set closer, ‘Wild River’. I can’t remember the last time I heard a crowd sing a chorus so loudly for five minutes solid after the band had left the stage and the lights had gone up.
We spoke with Tijuana Bibles before their gig in January and one of our questions was “What was your favourite gig?”. I reckon if I was to ask them the same question next time I’d be quite surprised if they didn’t mention this one. What a night. When are they back in town?
The crowd going Wi-i-i-i-ild at the end of the set…