The Twilight Sad
Let’s Wrestle and ChildhoodEdit this event
With illness having forced tour support Let's Wrestle to cancel their show for the second night in a row, it's left to local four-piece Childhood to open proceedings. Despite being in existence barely eighteen months and having an average combined age of no more than twenty, the University formed four-piece display a level of poise and maturity far beyond their tender years. Relative newcomers to the local scene they may be, but already word is spreading far and wide about their quintessentially classic English guitar pop and after the first few bars of their opening song it's clear to see why A&R scouts have travelled from London-based Heavenly Records to be here this evening. Taking their inspiration from the first wave of Creation Records; think early Primal Scream, The Jasmine Minks and Felt; up to the halcyon era of Bristol's legendary Sarah imprint, they're a refreshing antidote to your average run of the mill indie combo whose only focus is to be playlisted on daytime Radio One while offering a blinding ray of hope to any up and coming group of musicians that happen to stumble across their paths. Simply breathtaking.
Say what you will about the occasional inconsistencies of The Twilight Sad's recorded output but live they've always been an entirely different proposition. Maybe we're being a little unfair to some extent. After all, Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters was such an outstanding debut that pretty much anything that followed would be left trailing in its wake. It's for that reason alone that Forget The Night Ahead never quite matched its predecessor for me as far as reaching the same level of esteem goes. However, album number three No One Can Ever Know seems to have recaptured the imagination of the band's first long player, its release coinciding with almost unanimous outpourings of praise such as Jazz Monroe's glowing review on these very pages. Stripped of the heavy, reverb-laced guitars of old for a more minimalist keyboard orientated sound, it was still going to be interesting to see whether or not the newer songs could match the sonic bludgeoning of old for sheer drama and intensity. We really needn't have worried...
While Stealth has notoriously been dogged with sound issues when staging this kind of event; it is, after all, primarily a dance venue, the ear-splitting shards of white noise emanating from Andy MacFarlane's guitar tells a different story. Opening with 'Kill It In The Morning', No One Can Ever Know's swansong, is a brave move that could have lost many a lesser band's audience completely, many of whom are blatantly still in thrall to The Twilight Sad's earliest recordings judging by the request shouts from the outset. Frontman James Graham cuts an imposing figure as always, delivering lines like "I will write your requiem the day you're dead" and "I'll never go with you tonight" with impressive, if somewhat sadistic, gusto.
Heavily drawing from No One Can Ever Know as expected, it's a credit to that record these songs already sound so familiar when pitted alongside more familiar material like 'At Home That Summer I Became The Invisible Boy' and 'I Became A Prostitute'. There's even a sweaty yet polite moshpit around the front of the stage as the first strains of 'And She Would Darken The Memory' ripple around Stealth's fixtures and fittings. By the time 'At The Burnside' brings the evening's entertainment to a close, I swear there's a queue of punters brushing up on their sign language skills, the sheer volume from the speakers rendering ears useless for the foreseeable future.
That The Twilight Sad are still considered to be something of a "best kept secret" in certain quarters remains a baffling statistic, because if there's a better homegrown live outfit doing the rounds at present I've yet to see them.
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