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Tortoise live review

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Most bands lack one decent drummer. The fact that Tortoise have three operating at genius level is their greatest weapon, and it’s deployed tonight with such brutal precision that at points – especially when Johns McEntire and Herndon are squaring off against each other on opposing kits at the front of the stage – the band start to resemble some behemothic, angular techno monster. Top this rock-solid foundation with endlessly knotty melodies and the result is a bravura performance that feels at times almost mysteriously tight. “It’s only bloody Tortoise!” exclaims one heckler during a lull between pieces, joyous incredulity running through his Lancastrian burr as if he can’t quite believe what he’s witnessing. The knowing laugh that greets his interjection suggests he may as well be speaking for the whole room.

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