The Twilight Sad - Manchester Soup Kitchen
‘We don’t sell out shows,’ The Twilight Sad frontman James Graham tells me just hours before their sold out Manchester show is due to start. It’s been a good year for the Scottish band as they tour the country again after revisiting their debut in a series of shows last April. With their fourth album released at the end of this month, the group are around one last time before the year is out to spread some of their trademark misery.
Graham is full of nervous energy from the moment they step onto the stage. Between songs, he looks like he’d rather be anywhere than on stage, but during performance he moves with a possessed intensity. Comparisons to Ian Curtis are inevitable, as his eyes roll back and he flings himself across the stage, he screams the lyrics away from the microphone as if to save the ears of an already pumelled audience. So physical is his art, that by the end of the second song he is completely soaked through with sweat.
With the new album not yet in the shops, the night is mainly spent listening to and absorbing the new material. After opening with ‘There’s a Girl in The Corner’ and ‘Last January’, Graham apologises for not playing any old stuff and swiftly rectifies the situation with ‘That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy’ from their debut album.
Although known for their volume, the bare underground walls of the Soup Kitchen only serve to amplify the band’s sound. Even songs that sound light and gentle on record are absolutely skull-shattering in this room. That sheer volume sometimes comes at the expense of Graham’s melodic Scottish vocals; his voice has long been a strong part of the band’s appeal, and it's a shame that the mix overwhelms so detrimentally on occasion. A lighter touch would, almost certainly, make The Twilight Sad live experience more rounded, but tonight's showing has only enhanced anticipation for the new LP.