The moment James Graham’s vocals saunter into the room time becomes irrelevant; his romantic Glaswegian accent is carried on a crackling breeze of noise.
Drenching the stage in the miserable wash of an Irvine Welsh novel are fellow Scots Vladimir, who stand proudly in the shadow of headliners The Twilight Sad. Their set is soaked in the same desolate gloom, their cruel exposition of thick drawling bass and repetitive guitar pulling taut on the audience before relenting into a thunderous clamour. Ploughing wordlessly through their thirty-minute set Vladimir make no attempt to deviate, issuing single rasped breaths between songs, offering little recourse to the noise left behind.
Yet Vladimir’s impressive wash does little to hide some glaring lack of dynamics, the first half of their set is a somewhat flat affair, the first couple of songs never fluctuating in volume or showing any real signs of progression. It’s a rather minor concern that is soon remedied by their single ‘Born Slippy,’ which descends in and out of raucous uninhibited noise, the latter half of Vladimir’s set permeated by a more developed sound paving the way into the beautiful bleakness of The Twilight Sad.
Lights and music fade in unison; a naked stage cast into darkness, a velvet-like blanket falls over the crowd as a sweet vocal sample cascades over the room. Light breaks from the side door and several familiar shapes make the short journey to the stage, a thick rattle of reverb and delay resounding from Andy MacFarlane’s Jaguar. The moment James Graham’s vocals saunter into the room time becomes irrelevant; his romantic Glaswegian accent is carried on a crackling breeze of noise. Songs blur together like clouds, each dissipating into the next; the experience only interrupted by Graham’s humble appreciation at the faces singing his words back to him, “I’m supposed to be keeping this miserable vibe up but you’re making me smile like fuck.”
As each song comes and goes, Graham looks like a man possessed, his trademark onstage wanderings now accompanied by some indefinable internal struggle to feel the mic against his lips once more. His vocals however have lost none of their intimate ferocity; his voice still piercing through the thunder as he continuously backs away from the mic.
The passing of each track from ‘Fourteen Autumns…’ is a timely reminder of how different the band sound live. It’s a somewhat clichéd expression but no amount of repeat listens of the bands material can prepare you for the sonic assault delivered in the room. Though quiet by the bands standards at the start of the set The Twilight Sad continued to surpass the overwhelming barrage of sound left behind by each preceding song, every note coalescing into the final ear shattering ending.
Walking out of the Exchange, ears still awash with feedback I only wished that I could experience the whole album again, The Twilight Sad offer an experience that simply can’t be recreated by any other means.
Check out old favourite ‘Another Bed’ right here: