I’m not a fan of parties. On the rare occasions that I fail to worm my way out of an invite, you can pretty much guarantee than I’ll be one of the beer guardians in the kitchen or back yard, grumbling about the forced gaiety of it all. I even got punched in the thigh once because of my refusal to shake my booty to ABBA; in short, I’d rather go to a shit pub.
As it happens, I’m only here so that I don’t have to go to my sister’s birthday bash (terrible, I know, and it’s not the first time I’ve done it, either), and as Andrew WK is known for mentioning parties as often as fire and brimstone preachers howl ‘Halleleujah!’, this particular gig may seem like an odd place to seek solace.
It’s not, though, as Andrew WK uses ‘party’ as a verb, and I’m all for having as much fun as possible, just not somewhere where people are throwing up in a bath.
Anyway, back to the gig, and it’s fortunate that Turbowolf definitely qualify as fun. The Bristol quartet ooze the essence of rock ‘n’ roll from every pore, with frontman Chris Georgiadis zebedeeing across the stage, his gangly frame and lank hair making him cut a figure eerily similar to Arthur Brown at the height of his late-60s powers, complete with the most garish top this side of Challenge Anneka.
He’s a tremendous leader with the crowd eagerly lapping up every aside, and when he waves goodbye by saying “I love you very much”, the feeling is most definitely reciprocated.
For a headline act dismissed as a one-trick pony, an elaborate publicity stunt and, latterly, a conspiracy theorists’ wet dream, The Academy is absolutely rammed, tip-toe room-only busy for Andrew WK’s first visit to Manchester in a decade.
The house lights go down, a siren goes off, and searchlights scan the condom balloons and the hundreds of hands already punching the air before a ludicrously deep voice announces, “Hello everybody, it’s time to party…” before, well, ‘It’s Time To Party’ opens proceedings. It’s pure showmanship from the off, with the main man himself, clad as you’d expect from head-to-toe in white, emerging last to an approving roar, although quite why the band needs three guitarists is a mystery, it’s not as though they’re Earth, Wind & Fire.
It’s all to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his ‘I Get Wet’ début album, albeit slightly tardily as it was released in 2001, and as is the grand tradition with these things, we get the LP from start to finish. ‘Party Hard’ is as stonking as it always has been, and although the interplay between WK and his wife, Cherie Lily (who has come dressed as Cher in the ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ video), is as choreographed as a routine by The Saturdays, it all adds to the charm.
‘Girls Own Love’ and ‘Ready To Die’ flash by, while ‘She Is Beautiful’ is sublime with the by-now rabid faithful all being swept along by the joke. And it is a joke, one which only needed one album to drill the punchline home; when he isn’t partying, WK is a serious muso who turns up in jazz ensembles and has released an album of improvised piano noodlings, marking him out as a musical Tommy Cooper of sorts rather than a Wesley Willis.
Alas, the joke does begin to wear thin after ‘Party Til You Puke’, as it did with the album, and when they come back for the encore with WK uttering “This is the 1st song from our 2nd album” (‘Victory Strikes Again’), a collective “Huh?” goes around the room apart from the hardcore devotees who don’t stop all night.
The entire encore wafts by until the incomparable ‘We Want Fun’ rounds off the show in spectacular fashion, prompting a mass stage invasion and dancing all the way back to the bar. It’d be tough for any band to top it, and although you’d be out of your mind to buy any of his records, Andrew WK undeniably puts on a great show.