Gig Review: The Twilight Sad @ The Night & Day Café, Manchester, 24th March 2008

The Twilight Sad @ The Night & Day CafeAfter the sparsely populated gig at The Phoenix back in September, it was great to see that there was an excellent turnout on what was a quiet, chilly, Easter Monday in Manchester. Openers Laymar did a fine job in warming up the crowd with their all-encompassing post-rock, though JustHipper was rolling her eyes at the sound of the dialogue from a radio transmission during the first song – a feature of the set that she had predicted beforehand. She’s not a fan of the genre but she knows how these things work. Nothing that could be labeled as “post-rock” has set my heart racing in the last few years and, though I love a bit of Mogwai, Godspeed and Labradford, I rarely find myself listening to them these days. Laymar managed to rekindle some of my interest and, despite some initial scepticism, I ended up really enjoying their set, especially the epic, resonating guitars of the lengthy closing number.

The first thing that struck me about The Twilight Sad as they launched into the opening “walking for two hours” was the uncanny resemblance frontman James Graham has to Ian Curtis. Not just his looks, but the way he holds the mic and the unflinching intensity of his performance. This had obviously occurred to other members of the audience as ironic shouts for “She’s Lost Control” and “Transmission” were bandied about at the end of the song. “Yeah, I know what you mean” admitted the singer. Instead they played “that summer, at home I had become the invisible boy”, a classic in its own right, which saw Graham snarling his vocals in the general direction of his guitarist, who was producing waves and waves of beautiful noise from his instrument. It was a thrilling opening salvo, and the band didn’t let up. At The Phoenix, Graham had spent the entire gig facing in any direction but towards the audience. Here, there were a few tentative glances in the first couple of songs but he soon gained the confidence to confront the audience straight on and even became quite chatty between songs, apologising for their “shite” performance at that earlier gig and reminiscing about being in the Night & Day on a previous trip to Manchester to see Morrissey at the Arena.

The wall of noise the band create live is pretty remarkable given that their are only four of them, though I did spot a laptop lurking towards the back of the stage, and their were definitely some sounds in there that weren’t being generated by any of the band members. A couple of new songs were played and sounded very good indeed but it was the closing duo of “i’m taking the train home” and “cold days from the birdhouse” that really impressed, the fierce a capella opening of the latter bringing the hairs on the back of my neck to attention. It was a fairly short set, and there was no encore, but I doubt that many people there left unsatisfied. There has been talk of a mini album release in the summer, comprising new tracks and re-recordings of some Fourteen Autumns… tracks, so it looks like the release of a new full blown long player is a long way off, which is a shame as with a full complement of new material at hand, the Twilight Sad live experience is likely to get even better.

The Twilight Sad – i’m taking the train home

The Twilight Sad – cold days from the birdhouse

10 Responses to “Gig Review: The Twilight Sad @ The Night & Day Café, Manchester, 24th March 2008”

  • beth Says:

    Yeah, I’d go with that.

    I though Laymar were going to be terrible, but I didn’t mind them at all by the end.

    (still haven’t listened to any Frightened Rabbit, but I will get round to it, I promise)

  • Neil Says:

    Hey, just came across this site. Couldn’t agree with you more about the Twilight Sad.
    Got tickets for the gig on a reccommendation that they were good, but not having heard the album didn’t really know what the expect.
    Wasn’t a big fan of Laymar to be honest, that song with ‘child’s voice’ sample was bizarre to say the least but to give them a little credit their final song had a bit of a tune to it.
    ‘That summer…’ was probably my favourite of the night, and having listened to the album it’s a standout track on record as well.
    Like you say, shame they didn’t come back for an encore, and from what I hear not much new material to be expected but you have to be grateful for what you get I suppose.

  • Mick Says:

    Interesting, I saw them last night at the 100 Club and the band made a caustic remark to a member of the crowd who suggested that they play in London more often and said “we did but last time no-one turned up to watch”. Seems like their audience is growing because the 100 Club was packed out. We’ve been playing tracks from Fourteen Autumns on WOXY.COM for ages so the fact that they said than a new EP will be out in June was welcome info.

  • Justhipper Says:

    Post-rock is the aural equivalent of valium. Calming but really…do you want to be put to sleep at a gig?

  • Peter Says:

    Another great review although I almost feel that we were at different gigs. Didn’t hear any of the crowd ‘heckling’ and as much as I enjoyed the performance, I felt they lacked any real spark or connection with the crowd – although you could just watch James Graham sing for hours on end, he does it so looks (and sounds) so awesome.

    Probably didn’t enjoy them as much as I was tired and half deaf as a result of a cold and being too close to the speakers (both bands sounded super loud for some reason).

    Thought Laymar were great, despite the crying baby bit they played brilliantly.

    Enjoy Frightened Rabbit this weekend.

  • beth Says:

    Peter, the ‘hecklers’ (I had a less kind name for them) were standing in front of me. They thought they were really funny.

    ‘that summer…’ is a fantastic song isn’t it?

  • Max Says:

    I picked up this review after Googling ‘Laymar + Twilight Sad’ and I’m pleased that I found it but at the same time I’m disappointed that this review is the only one I can find because I think both bands are deserved of more attention.

    I’ll come clean and tell you right off that I only went to the gig because of Laymar but because The Twilight Sad are signed to Fat Cat and I’ve read other good reviews about them I felt it was going to be an enjoyable night.

    My girlfriend would say that I’m a big post rock fan and this is based on what she hears on my iPod but to be honest I’m pretty choosy about what ‘post rock’ I listen to. I lost interest a long time ago in Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai, and all the derivative bands that just copy them – believe me there are loads. One might as well just put “The Earth is not a Cold Dead Place” or “Come On Die Young” on repeat for all the variety that some bands offer. The one thing you can’t say about Laymar is that they are derivative and in fact I wouldn’t even call them ‘post-rock’ just like I wouldn’t call Grails or Tortoise ‘post-rock’ althogh many do. This is mainly because Laymar mess around with the time signatures and mix in different rythyms. I first came across them about a year or so ago and it was a genuine jaw dropping experience for me.

    One thing I didn’t like about their set with the Twilight Sad gig was where the sampled soundtrack was way too loud and I don’t know why the sound guy didn’t turn the volume down.

    I quite enjoyed my first experience of The Twilight Sad and I’m pretty certain that I would go and see them again. There was, in my opinion, not enough highs and lows in their live set and a couple of the endings just seemed to be unnecessarily long but this is not offered up as a criticism. They do what they do because they feel it’s right and who am I to say it’s wrong. They are band that we’re going to hear more of and I imagine there will be a demand on them to tour from time to time and play as many gigs as possible and with this will come the sort of experience in crowd pleasing that will make them popular at Festivals.

    I quite liked your review. I hate it when a reviewer goes to see one band in particular and is then quite dismissive of support bands simply because they are not in the style of the headline band. As much as I like post rock, alternative, left field type stuff if every band played in that style it would be a boring gig. An example of a good gig for me is one coming up in Manchester next month with Vessels (math/post rock), Keith (indie/alternative), Light Syndicate (alternative) and 1,2,3,4s (pop).



  • The Ledge Says:

    Thanks for the input, Max. The Vessels gig clashes with Blitzen Trapper, unfortunately. It’s good to hear a mention of Light Syndicate from someone other than ourselves – we’ve been bigging them up for years now.

    Beth – Yes, we know you like that song. We know that.

  • beth Says:


    I like the others too. It’s not just that one song.
    (But it IS really good isn’t it?)

  • JustHipper Says:

    It is a really good song.

    The Joy Division heckler was almost funny, once I realised what he was on about, although he pushed it a bit far. Beth, the guys in front of you just deserved a smack.

    The question is, have you two done as you were told and bought Frightened Rabbit tickets? The Ledge needs some company at that gig and the band are really ace.

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