EEEEEEEEEE – Live Review – The Twilight Sad, ICA, London


The Twilight Sad are LOUD. About 25 years ago, Swans played the ICA in London, a gig which has gone down in London gig folkore as the loudest ever. Apparently, people were being sick and in all sorts of trouble. Having seen Swans the following year, when apparently they’d calmed down, and not being able to hear at all after, I know what loud is. And Twilight Sad are loud.

Not quite that loud though. But loud enough to make my ears go EEEEEEEEEEEE. They’re doing it now. Getting to sleep tonight’s going to be fun.

This being a showcase of a couple of record labels – One Little Indian and Fat Cat – we were meant to be treated to three bands tonight. Sadly, Kill It Kid were unable to play thanks to “a case of th’ no’wells”. Shame, as Martyn has been singing their praises and since he’s a man who knows his stuff, I was rather looking forward to seeing them. Ah well, next time. EEEEEEEE.

So it was up to We Were Promised Jetpacks to be the only support act. And they did what every good support act should do – be good, but not so good as to upstage the main act. Noisy and bouncy, like a really good C86 band. Christ, first Swans, now C86, I’m really showing my age here.

I don’t know much about The Twilight Sad. I know they are from the edge of Glasgow, that singer James Graham obviously hasn’t got over his teenage years, and that they have a great line in song titles, but I’d no idea what they look like. What do they look like? A bunch of Glaswegian lads, pretty much. Mind you, I wouldn’t want to meet James in a dark alley, with his shaven head and air of coiled intensity. EEEEEEEEE.

Mine's A Guinness

Mine's A Guinness

Saying that, a few songs in, he looked at the crowd and said “We’re amazed you’re all here. We thought no-one cared about us”. We do, of course, because you’re a damned fine band.

What a noise they make. It’s glorious. A wall of sheer fury comes from Andy McFarlane’s guitar (a white Fender Jaguar with a Tortoiseshell pickguard, I’ll have you know – the guitar of all the best alt-rockers). Much of the time you can’t hear the lyrics, especially on the tracks from the new album, but when they fall back to stuff from “Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters”, James’s voice shines through. EEEEEEEEE.

“That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy” was absolutely fantastic, with just enough noise to make it special without drowning out the shining glory of the song. Or rather, it’s called “Hit Single”. Ah, irony. In fact, I’m not even going to bother listing the new songs. Just look at the set list:

Set List.  These Aren't The Proper Names.

Set List. These Aren't The Proper Names.

See? “Mooth”?

The new tracks, as ever when you hear new songs live for the first time, weren’t quite as convincing as the older ones, but they’re definitely expanding their repertoire, rather than making “Fifteen Autumns and Sixteen Winters”. Looking forward to hearing what it sounds like on record rather than through a big bunch of speakers. EEEEEEEEE.

Early in the first song, “Doonstairs”, in the middle of a frenzy of feedback, Andy kneeled down and changed a setting on one of his many guitar pedals. Just a little bit, you know, to get the wall of sound just so. Attention to detail is where it’s at, you know. Not just any noise for these boys.

Pride of place, of course, went to “Cold Days From The Birdhouse”, first half sung pretty much unaccompanied, second halves’ “Where Are Your Manners?” drowned beneath that squall of sound. The night ended with a wall of feedback, detuned guitars and basses, with James standing in the centre of it all, eyes squeezed shut. He seemed happy. We certainly were.

You have to admire their ability to create a definitive sound – part Mogwai, part Arab Strap, part Proclaimers-after-doing-acid-and-primal-scream-therapy-and-no-sleep-for-9-days. There’s more than a bit of Mew and Joy Division in there too. But it sounds all them. I love bands that just seem to fall together, and sound like they couldn’t do anything else even if they tried. EEEEEEEE.

And one last point – I love it when a band makes an effort with their record covers. Just check out the cover of “Here, It Never Snowed. Afterwards, It Did”:

The Importance Of Having An Image In The MP3 World

The Importance Of Having An Image In The MP3 World

Brilliant, isn’t it? The whole website follows the same design. See, you don’t get that with an MP3 download.

Anyway, it’s late, my ears are ringing, and I need sleep. Enjoy these tracks from The Twilight Sad and We Were Promised Jetpacks from the Fat Cat sampler. I suggest you go and see both bands when you get a chance. Take earplugs. EEEEEEEEEE.

MP3: That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy by The Twilight Sad

MP3: Here, It Never Snowed. Afterwards, It Did (Live) by The Twilight Sad

MP3: Tiny Little Voices by We Were Promised Jetpacks

Buy “Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters” (CD/MP3)

Buy We Were Promised Jetpacks “These Four Walls” (CD/MP3)

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  1. Last Year’s Music – The Twilight Sad « Loft And Lost
  2. The Noise! The Noise! « Loft And Lost

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