Live Review: The Twilight Sad, Great Scott, Allston, MA 7/18/07

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review by Miriam Lamey
photos by Kristie Lee Krause

With intense, concentrated energy and a touch of cheeky humor, The Twilight Sad presented a mesmerizing set at Allston’s Great Scott. The Glasgow-based quartet held the audience’s rapt attention as they performed a range of songs from their album Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters. The Twilight Sad played poignant, thoughtful music that translated amazingly live. Thick, often distorted, guitar and heavy bass blasted through the venue sounding just as multi-layered as on the recording. Even though New York-based Battles packed out a nearby venue, a fact about which singer James Graham joked, the excited crowd immersed themselves in the music. Especially one die-hard fan who belted out lyrics between songs.

The band slid into their set with “Cold Days From the Birdhouse,” changing the sonic structure by subduing the instrumentation and emphasizing the passionate vocals. This serenely gorgeous opening thrilled fans and the band transitioned into their second song without a pause. However, the band’s performance was far from subdued; the lads played songs such as “And She Would Darken the Memory” with amazing, frenzied energy that had the crowd whooping. On more than one occasion, singer Graham popped to the back of the stage to rock out and support drummer, Mark Devine, by smashing cymbals and adding to the intense, slightly dark sound.

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Obviously, the band has a preference for long song titles. Yet their live performance was far from drawn out and superfluous. Highlights of the set include “Walking For Two Hours,” where Andy MacFarlane rocked the slide guitar before the song devolved into a moody, instrumental breakdown. “I’m Taking the Train Home” echoed throughout the venue, conveying a sense of desperation, generated via ringing, mournful guitar and aching vocals. Overall, the set was utterly tight; all instruments came together to showcase The Twilight Sad’s shoegazey, layered sound. These lads unselfconsciously played beautiful music that possessed just enough of a sinister edge to be truly honest. The Twilight Sad are clearly unselfconscious, perceptive artists -- a sense that came across as they played their intriguing set on Thursday night.

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