Reviews > Shows
The Twilight Sad in Toronto
Photo by Andrew Dubinsky
The Twilight Sad
The Twilight Sad traveled quite a distance only to underwhelm, but that’s precisely what the Scottish quintet did Wednesday night in Toronto. Armed with a distinctive new record ( No One Can Ever Know, their 3rd), a promising musical kinship to Joy Division, and a mountain of well-controlled guitar noise, the vast potential the band wields went largely untapped. Despite James Graham’s best vocal efforts, the show left plenty to be desired.
Graham defines the group’s sound with his pronounced Gaelic inflection and determined delivery, and yet upon taking the stage, he had to signal multiple times to the sound booth just to have his microphone turned on. The issue was only partially corrected, as his voice remained low in the mix throughout. While Lee’s Palace may not be known as a bastion of auditory excellence, there was no excuse for the washed-out mess pouring from the system. Any hopes that the situation would improve over the course of the show were sadly dashed.
Presentation-wise, the shortcomings continued with the lights, or total lack thereof. Not a single change was executed during the 13-song set, making this international touring unit seem more like a hastily-prepared amateur act. Economics surely play a role in how involved a traveling production can be, but there is little point in staging a North American trek without addressing the basic issues of visual and sonic necessity. Such hitches were difficult to get past in attempting to enjoy the favorable aspects of the band’s routine.
In circumventing the technical pitfalls, however, plenty of great music was available to behold. ‘Kill It In The Morning’ and ‘Don’t Move’ opened the evening with a one-two punch of new material before ‘That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy’, a song inspired by the film Stand By Me, enticed a boisterous crowd reaction. With No One Can Ever Know expectedly favored, the industrial feel of the fresh crop prevailed. ‘Dead City’ and ‘Alphabet’ showcased Mark Devine’s workmanlike drumming as Andy MacFarlane’s swirling wall of feedback combined with persistent keyboard patches to perfection.
‘Cold Days From The Birdhouse’, the lead track from 2007’s debut Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, displayed the powerful appeal the band first met listeners with. Ever gracious, Graham expressly thanked the audience on more than one occasion for coming out to show support. Perhaps the stylistic departure of the group’s recent work has created a disconnect for long-time fans, but the general low energy level coupled with the unfortunate production issues made for a forgettable conclusion. With a solid catalogue but plenty of competition, The Twilight Sad ought to step it up if they hope to remain relevant.
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