The Twilight Sad/Adam Stafford, Edinburgh Bongo Club, November 16
Formerly of Y’All Is Fantasy Island, Adam Stafford appears on stage solo. Armed with his Fender Jaguar, two mikes and (I assume, it’s out of sight) a guitar effect unit, he sets about his work. And work it most definitely does. He loops his voice and guitar and effects to produce a spectacular result. The early songs in the set he plays are new songs that he is just trying out but he does give a nod to his solo albums. He’s politely grateful to the crowd for being responsive to what he does – apparently Aberdonian audiences are much chattier than us Edinburghers. The crowd are respectful and responsive, giving him the space he needs – and deserves to work his magic. The second track he plays sees him starting off as a human beatbox, giving a DIY-style Hip-Hop approach to proceedings, but there is also a post-punk sensibility to what he does. Having been aware of the name, but not the work I will be investigating further (and you should start here.
By the time the Twilight Sad come on stage, the Bongo Club is heaving. Interviewing singer James Graham before the gig, I told him about the first time I saw the band, on a bill at the Queen’s Hall, sandwiched between headliners Idlewild and newcomers Broken Records. They impressed me that night, but even before they walk on stage, the sense of expectation in the air is high. The feeling is that their time has finally come. Their third album No One Will Ever Know is out in February. At the time of writing, only two songs have been heard by most of the public -album closer ‘Kill It In The Morning’ and current single ‘Sick.’
Having been privileged to hear it, it sees them move into a new area that is darker than they’ve ever been before. Think Closer. Think The Holy Bible. Think The Twilight Sad will be massive this time next year and if not there’s a serious injustice at work. Whilst there has been rumours about the wall of sound being gone, there was no evidence of that last night at the Bongo Club. It was as loud as anything, but still there is the delicious lingering of the folk melancholy as a wave of noise to lose yourself in. Yet there’s a sense creeping in of a band who are growing ever more in confidence, of James as a frontman who knows he has the power to move people, to inspire and move people. (And even if he doesn’t, that’s the effect).
Looking at my notes I can see that I wrote at one point I wrote ‘Band sound like Joy Division meets My Bloody Valentine. It becomes a place to lose and simultaneously find yourself in.’ They give us now classic songs like ‘Last Summer’ and ‘Mapped’ and these now form part of their history.
On the evidence of this gig, their story is just beginning…