Live Review: The Twilight Sad at U Street Music Hall, Washington, DC – 3rd November 2018

By on Wednesday, 7th November 2018 at 2:00 pm
 

The closer we march to Christmas, the quicker the nights fall. On one of these chilly nights, The Twilight Sad descended on the Nation’s Capital to close out their 3-week North American tour with a bang. Despite the chill in the air outside, the basement venue U Street Music Hall played host to a sweaty mass of people eager to catch the Scottish post-punks before they returned home.

At first, I thought it was a strange thing to tour over here so far in advance of the release of their next album, which isn’t expected until early 2019. However, as the set progressed, standing among so many fans and their fervour, the thought evaporated. They were out here because of fan demand; their fanbase has undoubtedly increased since Robert Smith’s personal endorsement of the band and the Cure taking the band on tour with them. Frontman James Graham cracked a joke about us having nothing better to do on a Saturday night than see them but that they were awfully glad we turned up. Laughter ensued.

Since 2007 debut LP ‘Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters’, The Twilight Sad’s sound has morphed and evolved a few times, and the stage setup reflected this. A Macbook and two keyboards would have been unheard of at Twilight Sad shows a decade ago. With a massive back catalogue of tracks across four albums and a host of singles and EPs, there was plenty of material to choose from for their final set on this tour. The evening began with ‘There’s a Girl in the Corner’, its sombre tones opening ‘Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave’, which was met with pretty much universal acclaim when unveiled in 2014.

The Twilight Sad 2018 3

Throughout the set, the band’s trademark distorted guitars and Graham’s cutting, emotional lyrics delivered in his unmistakable Scottish brogue. At times, he looked like a man possessed, spinning like a whirling dervish or even punching himself in the head or chest, all the while the band banged out the hard-hitting tunes. For the long-time fans, older gems like ‘The Wrong Car’ and ‘And She Would Darken the Memory’ that closed the set with a deafening crescendo recalled the days when The Twilight Sad were a best-kept secret. In contrast, newer songs including single ‘I/m Not Here [missing face]’ and ‘Videograms’, whose glittery synths have been likened to that of The Cure’s, suggest the ushering in of a new era for the Scots, during which their music proves more accessible, is imminent. In the crowd, heads bopped, limbs flailed and words were sung along to.

Scottish indie music fans in the room Saturday night were waiting, quite possibly bracing themselves, too, for a particularly heart-wrenching moment that the band have repeated in their live shows over the last 6 months. Since his sad, untimely death by suicide in May, Scott Hutchison’s passing has been an apparition in our lives, a regular reminder of the fragility of humanity and the need for all of us to talk more, listen more and support our mates through difficult times. By playing ‘Keep Yourself Warm’ every night, The Twilight Sad pay tribute to their close friend Hutchison, a song true to form for so many of the songs he wrote, expressing the kinds of things adult men have been told not to say aloud or to others. Graham explained that they needed to move up the song’s placement in the set “for themselves”, presumedly so they could get past it the emotions and get back to the business of playing for us. In the audience, glasses were raised and tears were wiped away.

When it came time to say goodnight, Graham thanked the crowd again for coming to the show and that for sure, they’d be back in Washington in due time. And really, why would they stay away with a turnout like this? Stay tuned for The Twilight Sad’s fifth studio album ‘It Won/t Be Like This All the Time’, which is expected to drop on the 18th of January 2019 on Rock Action Records.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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