2nd June | Old England
In the scope of things, you wonder quite just how Thee MVPs are still alive, let alone a functioning and damn well-oiled band. If you were to take a look at them, four long-haired lads in Grateful Dead t-shirts and unbounded smiles, you would think they were an early-70s group still in the midst of traversing adolescence whilst rip-roaring across the US on no sleep and surviving simply on the adrenaline of getting to play a show every night in whatever dingy bar or desert-strewn road can be afforded to them.
Now in actuality, this isn’t as far off as you may think. Apart from the fact the band are very much a part of 2018 and they perhaps have a grasp of adulthood these days, everything else pretty much sums up Thee MVPs quite nicely, and there’s not a chance in Hell they are going to let anyone, even themselves, burn them out. They are almost a word-of-mouth delight all of their own accord, a group that were politely acclaimed by those I told I was seeing them as “fucking ripping.” They are just that.
Opening the night, Radiators are a pretty incessant rock n roll band, sitting somewhere between a steady mix of 70s golden rock and the under-appreciated sort of dirty, no-hit wonder garage. Their rhythm section bounces and grips in a playful fashion, while the guitar frees itself with sharp and sudden incisions, grasping at unadulterated feedback as much as physically possible. The vocals are enjoyably forceful and exasperated, the vocals bellowed into the mic with indignant fortitude as the front man sprawls over a half-size guitar. It’s surprisingly pop infused, and proves the band could be a real sleeper hit over time.
It almost feels like fate that Thee MVPs would play The Old England. It’s like they were formed for it, the immediate waft of warmth that rises as soon as the band begin is pretty overwhelming within the small space. You can only see the band if you are in the first three or four rows. It simply accentuates the band’s sheer force live, and immediately gives you an idea of what you are in for.
“We were in Doncaster last night,” front man and guitar shredder Charlie Wyatt announces. “The Hells Angels turned up; it was all fine though. We have long hair – they understood us.” The band proceed into a further rip-roaring speedball of a track that sees Wyatt swing dangerously backwards, the back of his head worryingly close to the heels of his feet as he wrangles another distortion-induced solo from his guitar.
It’s not all debauchery and caustic feedback with Thee MVPs though. The rhythm section is loose and prominent for how dastardly it is played, bassist Tim appearing from behind one of the pub’s foundations to jump down the stage steps on numerous occasions. They possess some pretty compelling hooks within their songs that have developed from years of shows, whether with a relatively fresh line-up or otherwise.
Thee MVPs have grown from being a band you can see countless times supporting other groups to being one of the most formidable, downright fun and arguably best garage rock bands in the country. In what can be a stiflingly unprogressive genre, that’s impact.