Playing their album 'Free' in full alongside some of their biggest party-starters was always going to be a recipe for success for Twin Atlantic, but their show at London's Roundhouse was so much more in so many wonderful ways.
Photos: Cameron Brisbane
It's hard to believe that over a decade has passed since Twin Atlantic released their second album 'Free' and propelled themselves from rising stars to one of Scotland's most renowned exports. But perhaps that is because the band haven't ever slowed down enough to let retrospection and reflection take hold since. They have never stopped moving, searching, and pushing for fresh new ways to expand their sonic repertoire and carve out a lane of their own, most recently with the release of their dark and delirious record 'Transparency' back in January. It's a credit to the band to have reached a milestone such as this to allow themselves the time and space to celebrate their past, present and future in such beautiful and iconic surroundings as Camden's own Roundhouse.
And what plays out as they take to the stage ends up being an emotional and deeply therapeutic experience.
The first part of tonight's set is 'Free' performed in full, something the band had never done before this selection of shows. But when presented from front to back, warts and all, it's evident what a fucking astonishing piece of work it is. From the jangly chords of opener 'Edit Me' to the dramatically stark admissions of 'We Want Better, Man', this is an inch-perfect and wholly passionate rendition of an album brimming with character, charisma and catharsis. From the gloriously raucous 'Apocalyptic Renegade' to the sumptuous 'Dreamember', every song is met with arms aloft and fists and drinks clenched tightly. Every bellowing chorus is delivered back to the band like it's the last thing anybody in this room will ever do and with the vigorous twang and vibrant soulfulness with which they were written. The stunning storytelling of 'Yes, I Was Drunk' builds to the sort of crescendo that edges on euphoric and the reflective nature of 'Make A Beast Of Myself' breeds the most feral of responses. Then you have a beautiful rendition of 'Crash Land' sends shivers creeping right up to the top of the spine whilst a vulnerable 'Wonder Sleeps Here' has more than a few cheeks dabbed with tears.
Basically, it is up there with the most perfect 45 minutes you could ever experience, and it also feels like a truly beautiful timestamp. A decade of memories come flooding back with each rapturous sing-along for all watching on in awe, of where you were when you first heard those shimmering keys at the start of 'Free' or the piercing feedback that 'Eight Days' sits on. You think how the world around you has changed, for better and for worse, and you with it. Of what that version of yourself from ten years ago would have thought about where you are right now. You remember the people you experienced those times with and silently mourn those who aren't here to enjoy them with you now. And through that tidal wave of emotion, you realise the one thing that has stayed steadfast throughout it all are these beautifully written and endlessly brilliant songs. It is the power of music at its most potent and a reminder of why it should never be taken for granted.
And that's all before the second part of the set even starts.
When held up against the foundations of 'Free', it feels like the rest of tonight's setlist, pulled from various other albums from the last few years, slots even more perfectly into place. You can see the thoughts and feeling that the likes of the buoyant 'No Sleep' and frantic 'Novocaine' were born out of. You realise just how much the multi-layered melodies of 'Barcelona' have to owe something that was first created way back in 2011. You can feel the same caustic energy pulsing through you when brand new jams' Bang On The Gong' and 'One Man Party' get a showing as anything you have already observed. And the sheer anthemic nature of 'Hold On', 'Brothers And Sisters' and closer 'Heart And Soul' feel all the more undeniable when presented in the middle of a performance like this.
It all equates to what is a triumph of the highest calibre for Twin Atlantic. It is a true celebration of not just where they have been but also of where they are heading. They have built a path on the back of passion, drive, and utterly exquisite songwriting and having the opportunity to show it all off in such a stunning room tonight feels genuinely extraordinary. And every person in attendance, be them reliving their misspent youth or losing themselves in the here and now, is leaving with their heart filled to the brim.
Because that's how music should always make you feel, isn't it?