If you think playing the support slot on an Iron Maiden or Slayer tour is a tough gig, spare a thought for the bands warming up the crowds across England tonight while the national team play their first FIFA World Cup semi-final in 28 years, in the midst of a country-wide heatwave no less. At the Boston Music Room in North London, that poisoned chalice is handed to Payday, High Vis and Inhuman Nature, who are greeted by a near-empty room while the herds of hardcore fans in attendance cram into the small courtyard out back to watch the match. Even Turnstile bassist Franz Lyons is out here soaking up the best of British in his brand new England football shirt, yelling at Dele Alli to play it forward and generally getting into the spirit of things. At least we know the headliners won’t be coming on until the match is over!
Sure enough, Turnstile opt to delay their performance until after the game has ground to its inevitable, disappointing Croatia-winning conclusion, and by the time they come on stage, there are noticeably fewer people here than the Sold Out signs would indicate. Once plentiful and full of voice, the England shirts are now few and far between, and it’s clear a lot of fans have either gone home to cry into their My First FIFA play sets, or simply not shown up in the first place, an extra kick in the teeth for the genuine, grown up fans who couldn’t get tickets. Thankfully, the absence of the mopers means the mood in the room remains high, and the patient crowd (seriously, could no one have set things up during extra time?) are eventually rewarded with a masterclass in punk rock glory, tearing Boston Music Room a new goal-hole in the process. From start to finish, it’s nigh on impossible to tell who’s meant to be on stage and who’s not, with band, crew, security, crowd and general hangers-on all crammed into the tiny space while a non-stop torrent of stage divers flip like sweaty pancakes into the seething pit, at one point off a speaker stack. In amongst this seething mass, coiffured, shirtless Bon-Scott-a-like frontman Brendan Yates and bassist Lyons are the focal points, lurching, gurning, grinning and leaping about like maniacs, although it’s often impossible to know exactly where either are, such is the flurry of activity on stage. Like the best shows, at times there’s a genuine fear everything could fall apart in a split second, but aside from a brief pause to grant an injured punter safe passage out of the melee, the chaos always threatens, but never topples, offering everything one could possibly want from a punk show in 2018. Short, sweet and dangerous, like an oompa loompa with a switchblade, the evening climaxes with a furious rendition of early single Keep It Moving before the band say their farewells, absolutely everything they’ve got handed willingly to a crowd that has reciprocated in equal measure. While the England team may have thrown it all away tonight, for Turnstile there is no such word as defeat. Outstanding.