Review: Twin Atlantic at O2 Guildhall (04/11/2014)

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Glaswegian alternative rock quartet Twin Atlantic have made a permanent foothold for themselves in the mainstream with their most recent album Great Divide, the third studio album of their career thus far. The record has built on the widespread success of first album Vivarium, topping the Scottish album chart as well as coming in at a respectable No. 6 in the UK to make this their most successful album to date.

The band – comprising Sam McTrusty (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Barry McKenna (lead guitar, cello, backing vocals), Ross McNae (bass guitar, piano, backing vocals) and Craig Kneale (drums, percussion, backing vocals) – have just finished up a tour of the UK, which featured sold out shows in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Birmingham, Cardiff and Cambridge with high capacity at many other venues, and are moving on to play shows throughout mainland Europe through November.

Support act Nothing But Thieves came on at 7:30pm to a scattered crowd but set the bar high by delivering a quality, professional performance – it was refreshing to see this from a band that is not very well known, and maintaining this demeanor on stage will carry them far. Vocalist Conor Mason led their set and played the perfect frontman, interacting with the audience and displaying the confidence of vocalists with twice or three times his experience. Performing tracks from their EP Graveyard Whistling (available here as a free download), Nothing But Thieves gave off beautiful melodic vibes right to the end of their set.

Second support act The Xcerts were not quite as impressive, although their delivery as a whole was still to an acceptable standard. Proceedings were delayed somewhat due to the soundcheck overrunning by a good 10 minutes or so, but to their credit The Xcerts made a solid open to their set when they eventually got on stage, laying smooth mellow tones over Murray Macleod’s very impressive vocals. A number of moody tracks later, under moody lighting and laced with the teenage-esque angst which pervades The Xcerts’ music, the audience seemed to have forgotten the above events and appeared to be enjoying themselves – or so it seemed, until Macleod attempted to encourage crowd participation in the chorus of ‘Slackerpop’ which fell flat on it’s face. Thereafter the crowds affection for The Xcerts was tangibly mediocre at best despite what appeared to be a good attempt at recovering their performance from earlier pitfalls.

So the audience were hankering for a little more energy after The Xcerts and that’s exactly what they got from Twin Atlantic. ‘The Ones That I Love’, first track off of the new album, was the opener and one of many songs from Great Divide which were scattered throughout, but the real stars of the show were always going to be the tracks from Vivarium and Free threaded through the setlist, reminding us that Twin Atlantic’s roots are firmly set in rock. Sam McTrusty’s frequent requests for crowd participation were welcome commands for fans old and new, and the sing-alongs to classic Twin Atlantic tunes were something to behold. An acoustic rendition of ‘Crash Land’, as ever, drew maximum attention from the audience, who drowned out McTrusty’s vocals with ease. The encore began with the beautifully emotional ‘Oceans’, vocals provided by the audience more than McTrusty who maintained a huge smile on his face through the entire song. This was followed by the more upbeat ‘Brothers and Sisters’ and the set came to a close with the smash hit single ‘Heart and Soul’, marking the end of a superb set from Twin Atlantic.

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MA English student at the University of Southampton and alternative music correspondent for The Edge.

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