Live Review: Hooton Tennis Club – Liverpool

Hooton Tennis Club

Invisible Wind Factory, 9th December 2016

Words: George Holland
Photos: Michael Kirkham

After an extensive tour of the UK and Europe, Hooton Tennis Club return to Liverpool armed with a tennis racket guitar and a Big Box Of Chocolates.

hooton-tennis-club_iwf_michael-kirkham-6060You can only use so many superlatives to describe a band before things start to sound ridiculous. I’ve struggled to condense my take on opening band Psycho Comedy down to five. Psycho Comedy are urgent, unrelenting, raucous, addictive and…well… comedic. Frontman Shaun Powell simmers so close to the edge that at times it is hard to tell whether he wants to kiss or kick the off-guard crowd. He ushers his band through a ceaseless set of thunderous garage rock rarely pausing to take a breath. In the brief moments between songs he howls and rants lyrics like some mad prophet who knows something that you don’t. This prophet and the band have the tunes to enforce the ramblings however, with We Adore You and new single ONE already sounding anthemic.

Pink Kink provide a stark contrast but manage to be just as captivating. Adorned in glitter and equipped with a set of surreal, glistening tunes. The band is near impossible to pigeonhole as they seamlessly flutter between several genres and sound comfortable everywhere they land. Songs can go from ethereal Kate Bush-esque avant-pop to electro-pop in the vein of Metronomy. Not a single person in that big dockland warehouse could feel the cold of Liverpool in December because Pink Kink took us all elsewhere. It’s a rare ability for a band whose music you’re unfamiliar with to have such an effect on you. I want

Enter Hooton Tennis Club. A brief retreat to Edwyn Collins’ Helmsdale studio has provided the band with a second album in as many years – once again to wide acclaim. The boys open with Growing Concerns, the first track from the aforementioned album. Its steady, primal drums build anticipation for a blistering set littered with slacker-rock genius. A broken string gives a moment of rest then, O Man, Won’t You Melt Me? (The most aptly titled song of 2016) reduces us all to a dewy-eyed mess. Every song exudes joy and the band is warm and charming throughout with the energy of bassist Callum McFadden setting the pace for the now equally energetic crowd. Then, assumedly in honour of the Lawn Tennis Club from which the band take their name, guitarist Ryan Murphy withdraws his secret weapon for Statue of the Greatest Woman I Know. He wields a boutique lawn tennis racket with a few strings and a pickup attached (no, I wasn’t under the influence, this actually happened) and it genuinely sounds good!

hooton-tennis-club_iwf_michael-kirkham-5977The set winds down for a few of the band’s older songs yet even the mournful Jasper manages to sound uplifting. The home crowd were on-board from the off and now co-frontman James Madden only has to mutter three letters, “P… O…W.” to be greeted with a bellowed chorus of the bouncy closer P.O.W.E.R.F.U.L P.I.E.R.R.E.

As clichéd as it sounds, I don’t know what’s next for Hooton Tennis Club; but I’m sure it’ll be fun.

Further appreciation should be levelled at both the band and the audience who helped to donate a vanload of clothing and other provisions for Liverpool’s Whitechapel Centre, a charity for the homeless in the region.

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