Chart topping Canuck rockers, The Trews came to the UK to properly introduce themselves. In the UK's second largest city, Birmingham, they played the HMV Institute with the help of a few local bands providing warm up and for the most part, the audience too.
In Canada, the band plays big venues and big festivals but like many of their contemporaries, I suspect outside of the Great White North border they remain relatively unknown. So this UK tour of theirs was a rare opportunity to catch a really good band at a really low cost in an intimate venue.
They appeared on stage to a tattoo soundtrack of pipes and drums. They were decidedly harder and heavier than their local warm up acts and kicked off with "World, I Know" which is a top 10 Canadian hit from their 2011 release, Hope and Ruin.
The Trews looked professional. Their image spot on. Their moves very well rehearsed - slightly aloof but straight up rock from their skinny Keith Richards-esque bassist to the Chuck Berry moves of front man and guitarist Colin MacDonald.
During breaks in the songs, they tried to interact with the audience talking about soccer (it’s football here boys), driving on the wrong side of the road and mispronouncing the city’s name. It’s a common mistake for first timers but eventually they won the crowd over and slowly but surely the audience was compelled into dance or more English reserved head bobbing.
Throughout the set, influences of The Pretenders, Tom Petty, Motown and Stone Roses erupted in my mind. About half way through, they experienced technical difficulties with a blown amp or something similar but they handled it in their stride and drummer, Sean Dalton, took to the mic with some poetic jokes and passed the time before succumbing to an acoustic version of "Hope and Ruin."
What followed was a somber tribute to one of their hometown friends and unfortunate casualty of the recent war in Afghanistan. This 2010 song, "Highway of Heroes" incorporated eerie harmonies and military like drum sections to produce a beautiful and moving song of pride and loss.
It was a short set of only 11 songs and mysteriously they didn’t stick to their written set list. But I’m sure they won over a fair few more fans outside of Canada including myself.
As for the local support, Little Wing, a young band out of Stourbridge area, kicked off proceedings and played a short but sweet set filled with alternative slightly emo rock with the best song being a tracked called "Get Up Get Up Scream."
Little Wing was followed by Brummie band, The Sharp Darts who certainly straddle influences of the mod Brit-pop era like Blur and Oasis. They crunched in an 11 song set featuring tracks from an upcoming 2012 release like the very indie sounding "She Don’t Know" to the '60s sounding "Time Again."