As The Twilight Sad whistle-stop their latest offering for the only North-West show, Getintothis’ Howard Doupé grabs the hottest ticket.
We’ve been waiting an eternity for this one. In an unbelievably short run of dates (three to be precise) announced months prior to the January release of their latest It Won/t Be Like This All The Time.
Maybe that’s the reason we find ourselves in somewhere the size of Gorilla – a strangely small venue to contain a sound as massive as theirs. Like the other two gigs it sold out months ago.
The last month has probably even surprised the band themselves. Looking past the factors that could have played their part, and maybe the stars have aligned just when the time required. We’re talking about their cutting of live teeth over the last two years on arena-sized stages opening for The Cure, the bringing of touring members permanently into the fold and slow burning growth of hardened loyal followers. Then there’s the album.
It’s given The Twilight Sad their first Top 20 album and what some might argue the wider audience they deserved from the start, certainly so after 13 years of graft.
A Mote Of Dust got things out of the blocks tonight. Essentially solo artist Craig B (former member of Aereogramme and The Unwinding Hours) accompanied by a pianist playing sparse piano, getting a leg up from their fellow countrymen. To be fair, the place is pretty full when their delicate, melodic tunes start to flow and surprisingly very attentively met. The delivery demands an ear and despite the complete polarisation to what is to come, we can see how they are akin to the often explored ‘acoustic’ elements of The Sad.
The response though, is one of respectfully impatience. The acoustic melodies, as fragile as these are soothing for the ear but the crowd are restless for The Sad – that’s the reason why they’re here and the buzz in the room typifies it.
As James Graham et al wander on under the bright lights the cheer is deafening. The clapping starts and last for what seems a good minute – it’s a celebratory applause. An acknowledgement from fan to band that the success they always deserved is starting to arrive. Tonight, it’s the band rewarding their loyalty.
[10 Good Reason For Modern Drugs] opens both the new album and set tonight- it’s brutal. As red lights swirl to the electronic-inducing claustrophobia the pulse cuts right through the physical form. It’s almost spiritual – some may argue The Sad have never been anything but.
The set, now grown to a monstrous 18 tracks in length is the perfect mix of old and new- not forgetting the continued and beloved reminder of those who’ve passed. Yes, they’re demonstrating the intensity and immediacy of It Won/t Be Like This All The Time in which all tracks get a run out tonight.
The singles shine bright. Auge Maschine and Keep It All To Myself are just jaw-dropping, seriously. Their sound has now moulded into a perfect harmonious mix of the electronic and the swathes of cloaking guitar. Brendan Smith and Andy MacFarlane – keyboardist and guitarist respectively- have found that perfect marrying. Their live sound has taken time to get there but the fruits of their labour show tonight.
What we hoped for, was emphatically cemented- these tracks are so suited to the live environment. Interspersed between old favourites such as Cold Days From The Birdhouse, Last January and The Wrong Car – one we hope isn’t dropped for a very long time- the emotiveness of the live journey has reached unbelievable heights.
As key to their connection with their audience, Graham’s continued mesmerising stage presence signifies how far they have come, how much these clutch of new mean and how fearless they now are in driving forwards. There’s no fear here, any prior self-doubt has been obliterated. What remains is pure passion.
On the strength of tonight a longer and grandeur tour is surely around the corner, surely. So many more need the opportunity to see a band at the top of their game – immersive, determined, purposeful.
It won’t be like this all the time, why the hell not. That Scottish voice screams so loud of raw sentiment and passion- it lights the way for all to follow.
Go ‘ed there lads: “Mon The Sad!”
Images by Getintothis’ Keith Williams