The Twisted Sisters with support from The Inappropriates & Sugar Beats
Friday 19th August 2016 – Sunflower Public House, Belfast
Before the music even starts, everybody knows that the craic is upstairs in the Sunflower Public House. Arriving early, the venue already packs a healthy crowd. Quickly reaching capacity and beyond as a slew of taxis delivers more dedicated Twisters and those downstairs are drawn up by the sounds of a good time. This is the magnetizing effect of The Twisted Sisters, celebrating the release of debut album ‘Pure Hallion’.
I was fortunate enough to catch The Twisted Sisters at their annual Sunflowerfest slot at the start of the month. Every year the band demonstrate their unflinching talent as performers, their unique and infinitely memorable brand of sunshine-punk drawing the majority of festival goers to the campfire stage where they’ve achieved cult status. With a catalogue of songs ranging from the feel-good rhythms of folk’n’roll potato ode ‘Spuds’ to the earnest slow-burner ‘There’s No Job (Like A Blowjob)’ the band takes to the Sunflower bar to premiere the new album.
On the wall hangs three pairs of oversized underpants, scène à faire for the band. Centerpiece are ‘Aunt Lily’s Big Knickers’, a teaser of things to come. First, support comes from The Inappropriates, a four-piece named and known in Belfast for their strikingly irreverent song-craft.
On stage we get half of the quartet, stripped down to bass and guitar for their performance in front of the knicker triptych. Regardless, backed up by confident, competent musicianship the band provide a tongue-in-cheek tackling of a range of social issues. From the rockabilly ‘Just Give Me A Man’ to the black humor of ‘Everything Gives You Cancer’. Hugely spirited and up against the enthusiastic crowd the band taps into a party atmosphere, with Twisted Sisters’ Susie and Karen upfront singing along throughout the set. I would say one thing; I’ve never seen a duo so quickly able to invoke a room full of people to shout “Porn!”
Before long The Twisted Sisters take to the small stage. The group is made up of sisters Susie and Karen, Emmet, Gary, Damo, Gillian and Pearse. As collaborators, the band captures a true passion for performance. There’s a strong sense of friendship between the members, radiating out and pouring into the crowd. Although particularly striking in their atmosphere and ethos, the band doesn’t fall short in their memorable hooks, riffs and infectious rhythms. Songs like ‘Chips and Guinness’ balance out between their crafted lyrical simplicity and ability to tap into a rhythmic consistency, energy and endearing quality that leaves the track stuck in your head long after you’ve left the venue.
The band divide their performance into two acts, a parallel to the album tracking. ‘Pure Hallion’ is the feature side of the album, dealing typically with the explicit themes The Twisted Sisters aren’t afraid to tackle, whereas ‘Sisters Sweet’ provides a family-friendly alternate tracking. The impressive dual-character of the album underlines The Twisted Sisters as professional, confident musicians. Acutely aware, the band lends itself to all ears. Both sides feature ‘Thanks To You’, a thanks and an ode to their audience whose love, energy and enthusiasm the band never fails to credit for its role in their music. Acoustic support comes from Sugar Beats during the intermission before The Twisted Sisters take to the stage again and demonstrate a ceaseless energy for performance. The room is packed out, filled with laughter, pints and even bubbles, as the band bring the evening to a close.
The new album ‘Pure Hallion’ plants a firm foot down as a musical powder keg. Staying true to their unforgettable live performances, the album tracks capture the searing passion of The Twisted Sisters for their craft, for the craic. Ever humble, the back of the album reads: “Your support and shared joy for our music means a lot to us, so as the song says ‘Thanks To You.’”