Live: The Twilight Sad – Cargo, London – February 14 2012
Clutching an icepack to the place where my left kidney used to be, beer in the other hand, the opening grind of ‘Kill It In The Morning’ rolled out across the night’s venue. Despite the money haemorrhage, Cargo suited The Twilight Sad – a low ceilinged, cave-like room, space for five men to breathe on stage, the bank of visualizer screens and pumps of dry ice all adding to the cold, futuristic atmosphere of the new material.
Good thing, too, as the set was heavy on the new album, ‘No One Can Ever Know’. The band themselves weren’t kidding about it breathing new life into their live shows. This was electric. The best I’ve ever seen them perform. The difference between this and last month’s Borderline show is immense. I mean, I never thought I’d see dancing at a Twilight Sad gig, but people were definitely moving; the beat of ‘Dead City’ is pretty undeniable. It was also not quite as loud, by which I mean it was loud, but not ‘dials up to 11′ loud. If I have to go deaf and the last thing I ever hear is Andy MacFarlane’s guitar I’d be okay with it, but it seems testimony to a growing confidence and the death of ‘the wall’ that the vocals were distinguishable (well, as they ever are…).
There was plenty for anyone who hasn’t had ‘No One’ on repeat for the last ten days (i.e. not me) to shout along with – ‘Cold Days From The Birdhouse’, ‘I Became A Prostitute’, ‘Invisible Boy’… Moreover, all the trademark elements of a Twilight Sad live show remain intact. They still don’t talk much, or look up, the two biggest criticisms I’ve ever read of their gigs. I hope they never feel compelled to do so, because what they do on stage is so intense and intimate it would break under scrutiny. We as an audience need that fourth wall, or you’d have to politely move away and come back when they’d collected themselves.
As anyone who’s ever watched this band will know, that is especially true of vocalist James Graham. Tuesday night was no exception, in fact I think the freshness of performing the new songs had his performance even more fierce than usual and it’s usually pretty fierce. Like their music, it invites you to see and pushes you away as voyeur. I want to look and not look. I want to know what he screams away from the microphone and, then again, I probably shouldn’t. He’s barely there and totally present.
In fact the sweetest (yeah I said sweetest about these guys) moment of the evening came during a break in the music as Graham blinked away the sweat in his eyes and appeared to notice the audience for the first time. “Hello, James!” yelled someone in the crowd and was rewarded with a wide, bright smile, before he was dragged back under by the shimmering opening strains of ‘And She Would Darken The Memory’.
‘Nil’, a stand out track on the album, was a stand out track of the gig, pulsing its way through its increasingly intense climaxes. Something about the energy of Graham’s delivery had my eyes burning. Not till the end did I realise I’d been holding my breath and digging my nails into my palm. My friend said, and I’m inclined to agree, that you don’t just watch a Twilight Sad gig, you survive it.
As the fittingly unsettling final notes of ‘At The Burnside’ crashed around us, the crowd screaming for more, it seems we’re not the only masochists in search of catharsis around.
Posted by Katy Cousins
Tags: 14th, Cargo, February, Katy Cousins, live review, London, the twilight sad