15 February 2012.
Stealth is an aptly named place, being as black as Simon Cowell’s
heart. Sitting amidst a complex that also takes in indie venue
The Rescue Rooms and – ahem – ‘rock’ venue
Rock City, it’s usually the home to DJs playing the sort
of music that was edgy and cool in 1990, but tonight is turned
over to the very loud and not at all blessed out The Twilight
Sad. Why the band are playing here is anyone’s guess, but
it’s a good choice and more bands should do it.
With one support act dropping out, things open up with Childhood
– aptly named, as they seem to be mere youths who at one
point seem tickled by the idea of a double A-side single (which
they have somehow managed to get released), comparing it to something
"from the olden days in the 70s". Jesus. Ironically,
the band seems stuck in the past itself, as if they’d raided
their dad’s C86 collection and decided that was the sound
of today. “They sound a bit like House of Love,”
says my mate Jim, “if House of Love were shit”.
Harsh words, but with incoherent, mumbled introductions and a
distinct lack of stage presence, I fear these boys have a way
to go yet.
The Twilight Sad has no such issues. Promoting fabulous new album
No One Can Ever Know,
they take the intimate, dark music of the album and its predecessors
and belt it out in an astonishing wall of sound that is so intense
and overwhelming that at times, the guitars and the keyboards
mesh into a single sound that is both terrifying and beautiful,
before cutting back to moments of subtlety. It’s genuinely
breathtaking stuff. Singer James meanwhile seems caught in his
own world, battling insular demons and seemingly oblivious to
anything else happening around him. His performance is so painfully
emotional that it almost feels as though you’re intruding
on a private moment by being here watching. Then, the song will
end and he’ll give a shy smile and salute to the crowd to
show everything is okay after all.
As the gig goes on, the packed crowd becomes more caught up in
it, mild head-nodding and self-conscious indie swaying giving
way to furious surges and sweaty desperation, like an infection
has swept across the room. And in a way, it has. That’s
what great music, performed so perfectly, can do to you.
I’ve seen a lot of bands in my time; tonight was amongst
the best I can remember. If you get the chance to see The Twilight
Sad live, I suggest you do whatever it takes to do so. Your head
and your heart will thank you.