The Twilight Sad at Whelan’s – Review and Photos
The eyes of the world are on Las Vegas tonight, but for a while at least, DublinConcerts.ie has its gaze fixed firmly on Whelans, where Glasgow’s The Twilight Sad play their first show in the capital. And while the May weather leaves a lot to be desired, many have packed into the Wexford Street venue to see the Scottish band’s penultimate show of this tour.
Opening with a quick one two from current album Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, they sound fantastic, Andy McFarlane’s delayed Jaguar chiming the opening notes on ‘There’s a Girl in the Corner’ and Mark Devine’s pounding drums driving ‘Last January’ to its incendiary conclusion. ‘That Summer At Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy’, the first song vocalist James Graham ever wrote, is an old fan favourite and hearing the Whelan’s crowd singing “the kids are on fire in the bedroom” back to him must be affirming to the charismatic singer, no matter how dark the subject matter of the song.
Graham commands attention, his magnetic presence part Ian Curtis, part Thom Yorke. Even between songs, he is a hive of activity, dancing, gripping the microphone, itching to start the next song. His infectious enthusiasm is mirrored by his humility when he thanks the audience for coming out to see the band. “This is exactly what we needed” he says before the white noise of ‘I Became A Prostitute’ explodes around the room, it’s wall of feedback reminiscent of MBV or compatriots The Jesus and Mary Chain.
‘Leave The House’ in contrast is a mellower affair, Graham’s velvety brogue to the fore. ‘It Never Was The Same’ might just be the most beautiful song the band have written, and the standout moment of the gig, Graham leaning over the stage, eyes bolted shut, cocooned within the song as if it’s the last time he ever sings it.
This warm emotion surrenders to the cold buzzing intro of the current album’s title track, MacFarlane’s guitar nodding towards MBV’s ‘Sometimes’, it’s tremolo fuzz overpowering the room. Unfortunately Whelan’s as a venue is too small to accommodate the widescreen nature of some of the band’s material but it’s a small price to pay for the intimacy of the evening.
After a long wait, a cut from third album No One Can Ever Know follows. Sonically very different to its predecessor Forget The Night Ahead, with more analog synths than guitars, ‘Nil’ is the only song we hear from it tonight. We return to debut album for ‘Cold Days From The Birdhouse’ before the killer blow of ‘The Wrong Car’, which is performed beautifully tonight, (although once you hear the magnificent version with the National Scottish Orchestra, it cannot be unheard). Set closer ‘And She Would Darken the Memory’ evokes memories of my introduction to The Twilight Sad at last year’s PrimaveraSound festival and reminds me how much I love this band. A final round of cymbal crashes, hypnotic loops and white noise ends with singer James Graham on the canvas and unanimous applause for a show that will live long in the memory.