Coronavirus update: View cancelled events here

The Twilight Sad at Gorilla, Manchester review

Tyler Marriott honed in The Twilight Sad's biggest headline show in Manchester to date.

Ben Smith

Date published: 16th Dec 2015

Image: The Twilight Sad

Considered to be an amalgamation of industrial, folk, indie and punk, The Twilight Sad - named after a line found in Wilfred Owen’s The War Poems - push many boundaries of the listener’s perception of what constructs a genre, with many sub-genres challenging recognition.

They are conductors, orchestrating the greatest in rhythmic progression and enveloping a package of oxymorons: disbelief to belief, fiction to realism and depression to happiness.

All in contrast, these notions are tailored to take the audience in a transit journey of emotion, most commonly being reality, subsidised by a depressive narrative and themes of an opposing nature but, all in all, a relatable sound.

For frontman James Graham the knowledge of this is evident as he, above all else, understands the band and fans by declaring to the Manchester audience: "You know what you are in for, we are not a clappy band". 

The connection between band and audience didn’t rest there. After opening tracks ‘There’s A Girl on The Corner’ and ‘Last January’, the band highlight, staggered in disbelief and appreciation at the near sold out crowd in Gorilla, just how important it is to play Manchester.

When they were growing up they listened to every band from the Greater Manchester area, and to spare any questions, the band do love ‘Wonderwall’ by Oasis.

James Graham spoke of his love of that particular song, but respectfully declined an audience members request to cover the song and was happy to offer a drink once the gig was over.

The progression yielded with a supportive melody continues, and never ends with the opening of ‘Drown So I Can Watch’, resembling James Bay's ‘Hold Back the River’ or vice versa depending on the listener’s sensitivity. Unlike James Bay the face behind the music is not as important.

For The Twilight Sad the lighting, the aesthetics of their surroundings, the positioning of each band member creates a collectively composing stature of intensity that only further compliments the band’s sound which is dark and emotive but never loving.

As for James Graham his voice appears from the darkness, his face only visible when the lighting embodies the song in which the audience’s attention is on the sound.

That aside, it ultimately makes for a great live atmosphere that in turn means you will never see two live sets the same from The Twilight Sad.

Before the band go into ‘I Could Give You All That You Don’t Want’ they embrace the Christmas festivity by showing the obvious meaning behind the song and adding Merry Christmas to the end of its title.

Pushing through more tracks the band play ‘Nil’ and ‘The Wrong Car’ before drawing the evening with a close on ‘It Was Never the Same’.

They allow time for a quick thank you to those who turned out to see them play their biggest headline show in Manchester to date: "Enjoy Christmas, enjoy life."

"Thank you to everyone who has come down, know that you made our nights. And when we’re back in Manchester next year we will be supporting a little band called The Cure. You will catch us at the bar thinking how/why the fuck has this happened to us."

It's difficult to pin down The Twilight Sad, as they leave the stage to devotion of cheers, and, still, not knowing which genre to group them in, it's clear that they’re emotive.

They write songs, unlike a protagonist taking the reader into their life, of looking into someone else’s world and capturing the experience.

And above all else what they have achieved is a bunch of miserable bastards in a room and a miserable bunch of musicians on stage, the result? Momentary Happiness, until it is back to work the following morning.

Read Reverend Jon McClure interview: I've not made my best album yet