As much as I can understand booking a support act which won’t detract too much from the main event, I’d assume you’d still want to give a chance to bands and artist who’ll not only give a taster of what’s to come, but also showcase a lesser known talent.
First off, Young British Artist lived up to their name, as they could have been pretty much any small-time indie rock band in the country. There was nothing technically wrong with them, they were just a bit boring. Bland.
The second support slot went to Let’s Wrestle, a dreary collection of strange moustaches, hipster glasses, chunky-knit cardigans and one particularly disgusting paisley shirt. They showed occasional moments of city-surfer promise, a la Howler, but that was over-shadowed by their shower of shit of a frontman. What he lacked in vocal ability he couldn’t even make up for with a dribble of redemption-buying charisma.
The songs merged into the same day-dreamer dirge, and they couldn’t have finished sooner. Their set was only half an hour long, but it felt far, far longer.
Eventually, the lights were turned low, the floodlights glowed crimson and a synth fog horn sounded the arrival of The Twilight Sad. They come in, heavy and hot, with James Graham’s unmistakable Scottish bellow.
In fact, one of my favourite aspects of this gig was the way James became completely immersed in the music, closing his eyes and let it crash into him, like a wave of Joy Division-esque glory. Every so often, whilst standing away from the mic, he’d scream at the top of his lungs, as though trying to expel demons. Then, as the song would come to an end, his conscious would return to the room, and he’d become slightly timid.
His voice dips and creeps with the dangerous tide of sound that’s dragging the crowd away from the shores of mediocrity and into the choppy seas of bitter and twisted synthetic folk.
The first they play from the new album is, fittingly, ‘Alphabet’, with it’s sombre march and quick-quick-slow vocal patter, creating tension and release in quick succession, emoting heart string tugs and empathy. This is followed by the soaring melodrama of ‘I became a prostitute’ and the menacingly brilliant ‘Another Bed’.
The industrial krautrock influence of ‘No One Can Ever Knows’ can be felt during ‘Nil’, but they still remain behemoths of gloom rock, ending on the grasping tornado of ‘At the burnside’. James removes his earplugs, as enraptured as his audience, and reminds us of the sheer passion it takes to create something so achingly dark, beautiful, and ridiculously loud.
Words: Abigail Evans