The Twilight Sad, Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Sat 30 Nov
- Megan Forsyth
- 2 December 2019
James Graham and co. shine at the Scottish band's largest-ever headline gig
'We are The Twilight Sad and this must be a fucking dream,' lead singer James Graham says, looking out into the crowd at Edinburgh's Usher Hall. Nearly selling out the 2,200 capacity venue, the night marked the Scottish indie rock band's largest ever headline show. Since releasing their first EP in 2006, the hard-working quintet known for Graham's distinct Scottish accent, their gloomy lyrics and intense live shows, gradually developed a cult following (both at home and abroad) which has rapidly grown in recent years.
The setlist is heavy on numbers from their latest album, this year's It Won/t Be Like This All the Time, playing all but two of its eleven tracks, along with some old favourites. It's clear from the crowd's enthusiasm that this is a band the Scots feel extremely proud of, almost as if they have been watching their kids grow up over the years and this is graduation day. Before playing the old fan favourite 'That Summer, at Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy', Graham notes that the band performed the song way back in 2007 in Bannermans Bar in Edinburgh. 'A sweaty mess it was,' he recalls. 'It's still a sweaty mess.' He's right – although they are now performing in a venue over 12 times the size of wee Bannermans, the Usher Hall standing room is packed with adoring fans trying to push closer to the front.
Graham is an enigmatic frontman who gives his all onstage, swaying about and losing himself entirely in each song. The moving crescendo of 'Cold Days from the Birdhouse' gets one of the biggest cheers of the night and Graham is overwhelmed by the response. He pauses and seems unsure that he can carry on. 'I'll never forget that,' he says nearly in tears, and it's clear that he is genuinely grateful for this moment.
They pay tribute to their late friend Scott Hutchison with an emotional cover of Frightened Rabbit's 'Keep Yourself Warm', but it's somehow more uplifting than sad, with the entire crowd loudly singing along to every word. Graham notes how much it means 'to be in a room like this, full of people who loved him as much as we did.' The connection between the two bands and their fans is undeniable and there is no one else who could pay a more fitting tribute to Scott. 'I know you're here,' Graham says, looking upwards, and the heartstrings of the entire crowd are pulled simultaneously.
The final song of the night is 'And She Would Darken the Memory', which first appeared on the band's debut EP all those years ago. The Twilight Sad are a consistently strong live band, but tonight was a particularly triumphant occasion and performance. It felt like everything that the band worked so hard for over the last thirteen years was leading up to this specific moment in time, and they absolutely owned it with both grace and style.