THERE’S NO LOVE TOO SMALL

I recently mentioned that myself and Aldo were heading off to Leeds to catch The Twilight Sad play their first UK show in 18 months and their first headline show since December 2015. I wasn’t sure beforehand if I was going to say anything after the event, but as you can surmise from the fact these words are appearing in a post on the blog, I’m now entirely sure that, unlike Rod the Mod and Everything But The Girl, I do want to talk about it.

First up, some thoughts on the city of Leeds. It’s a place I hadn’t been to for the best part of 20 years and the last time around I wasn’t all that impressed – but then again I had gone down to watch a day of cricket with a group of mates and we didn’t venture too far from the hotel bar or the ground at Headingley. The railway station, which had been the arrival point, was a dark and depressing place, reliant on unpleasant smelling underpasses to get you from one part to another and the city centre seemed equally unappealing with the pubs not offering much of a welcome to non-regulars.

The Leeds of 2018 has been transformed way beyond recognition. It’s not a city which seems to be incredibly dependent on tourism in that there’s none of these ‘hop-on, hop-off’ buses which are so common in such hotspots, but there has been a remarkable growth in the number and quality of hotels in the centre, with all sorts of new accompanying commercial and retail developments. There’s been an explosion of new bars but at the same time, many of the older traditional places have clearly upped their game, offering all sorts of real ales/craft beers and high-end vodkas, gins, whiskys etc. for the most discerning of tastes.

In short, the city proved to be well worth a visit and would be one I wouldn’t hesitate to return to if the opportunity arose, which it might well do given that the Brudenell Social Club has jumped straight to the higher echelons of my all-time favourite gig venues.

As I said last week, it was one of two long sitting on the bucket list and I had knocked off the other last year with a trip to Hebden Bridge Trades Club, again in the company of Aldo, when we had enjoyed Jens Lekman followed by a memorable afternoon and evening in Manchester in the company of the man in charge of the bagging area. The Brudenell, however, proved to be something else again.

The Twilight Sad have a long association with the venue, but even this was a first for them in that they were making their debut in the Community Room, a new part of the building which opened just last year. It’s a superb space, just perfect for gigs with its width, low-roof and raised stage offering great views no matter where you choose to stand. It also has the very best in acoustics and thanks to it being designed in a way that the bar area is separated and largely buffered from the main auditorium, it reduces the likelihood of the yakkity-yak nonsense which often spoils a good night out at a live music event.

Mind you, having had a look at the Function Room where the majority of gigs have previously taken place, I’d love to catch an act in there sometime of an evening as it had the look, feel and vibe of a very special place where an audience and singer/band would bond brilliantly; last Saturday is was busy with folk watching Croatia v Nigeria in the 2018 World Cup – I can’t imagine how rammed it would be if England and/or one of the big teams were involved.

So….with all this in mind, given that the city and the venue hadn’t disappointed, the onus was on the band to ensure the feel-good factor remained intact.

They took to the stage at 9.15pm and they ended a 14-song set at 10.30. They opened with a classic and they closed with something that was awe-inspiring, moving, powerful and as sensational 7 or 8 minutes as I’ve ever experienced in what is now almost 40 years of watching live music. In between, we got some familiar and often aired favourite songs from the back catalogue and were also treated to three as yet unreleased numbers. They sounded pitch perfect thanks to the afore-mentioned sound system and acoustics…..and while they are very much a five-piece band, especially in the live setting, there has to be special mention of frontman James Graham who is, without any question, the most mesmerising of performers whose vocal delivery and accompanying movements surely leave him on the brink of complete physical and mental exhaustion every single time.

It was fascinating to look around the audience when the lights went up. Given it was such a rare show, it had sold out quickly and of interest to fans from all over – you could certainly pick out a fair number of Scottish accents in the bar area beforehand – and so was always going to be one in which there were very few, if any, folk who were experiencing the band live for the first time. Most seemed to be, like myself and Aldo, quite speechless, coming to grips with what had just been witnessed; there were some in tears, understandably overcome by the intensity and emotion of the final few minutes. I’m sure if there had been an exit poll, the option of ‘best show they’ve ever played’ would have won a landslide victory.

The band have always been prolific in their use of social media. The following morning, as we sat down to a lovely and value-for-money breakfast in an old café which was defying the surrounding regeneration and partial gentrification of the canal area, Aldo read out what had just been posted on the official Facebook page:

“I’ll never forget last night. A room full of beautiful people. Brudenell Social Club is part of our history and will be part of us as we try to move forward. There’s no love too small x.”

Indeed.

Setlist

That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy
Don’t Move
Dennis Hopper (new song)
Last January
I Became A Prostitute
It Was Never The Same
VTR (new song)
Reflection of The Television
The Wrong Car
Arbor (new song)
There’s A Girl In The Corner
Cold Days From The Birdhouse
And She Would Darken The Memory
Keep Yourself Warm (cover version)

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Last January
mp3 : Frightened Rabbit – Keep Yourself Warm

JC

PS :   Typing this up at 6pm on Tuesday night at which point The Clash are hoilding a narrow lead over Echo & The Bunnymen in the ICA World Cup quarter-final. There’s still time to cast your vote if you haven’t done so already – do you prefer Clampdown or Never Stop?

THE LONG-OVERDUE AND WELCOME RETURN OF THE TWILIGHT SAD

It’s been two and a half years since the last time I saw The Twilight Sad when they played a triumphant pre-Christmas show at The Barrowlands in Glasgow. They spent most of 2016 travelling the world a the support act to The Cure while last year they took some time out to recuperate during which lead singer James Graham ventured into a side project called Out Lines, working with Kathryn Joseph (winner of the Scottish Album of the Year in 2016) and Marcus Mackay.

Tomorrow night they are playing at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds, a venue that has long been on mine and Aldo‘s bucket list and so we are off down south to take it in where we will hopefully be joined by Comrade Colin.

I’ve been excited about this one for months, counting down the weeks impatiently. And yet, I was nearly in a position of not being able to go as the death of a close friend last week threatened to put things on hold – if the funeral had been tomorrow, then there would have been a very tough decision to make. As it is, Aldo will head down as planned later this morning and I’ll delay my departure for a few hours and join him this evening.

The gig promises to be special. They have a new drummer following the unexpected but amicable departure of Mark Devine which was announced a few months back. They also are likely to include a Frightened Rabbit number in the set as a tribute to the late Scott Hutchison – I’ll do well to stay in control of myself if that happens.

Here’s a reminder of why this band are, and have been for a while, my favourites:-

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisble Boy (from Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, 2007)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – The Room (from Forget the Night Ahead, 2009)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – The Wrong Car (frm The Wrong Car EP, 2010)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Sick (from No One Can Ever Know, 2012)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – It Was Never The Same (from Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave, 2014)

JC

A GLORIOUS WALL OF NOISE

“Firstly, this song is not about being a whore, it’s a line from the Jean-Luc Godard film Vivre sa Vie (My Life to Live) that seemed to fit with the concept of the lyrics. I’m not sure if we shot ourselves in the foot with that title, seeing as it was the first single. For radio, it had to be called “I Became a ……..” because the word ‘prostitute’ is apparently offensive. This one came together quite easily when writing it and always stood out to be a single.”

So said singer James Graham an interview given back in 2009 when the songs on the LP Forget The Night Ahead were dissected one-by-one.

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – I Became A Prostitute

One of the most powerful and impressive singles to have come out of anywhere, never mind Scotland, in recent years. And a real tour-de-force when played live.

Here’s your b-side which is not without its merits, especially if you like music that is reminiscent of the Seamonsters era of The Wedding Present and a bloke singing in a Scottish accent:-

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – In The Blackout

When you think of all the crap that hits the charts nowadays, it really is criminal that so few people bought this single.

JC

FROM RECORD STORE DAY 2013

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I’m not a fan of Record Store Day. It started out with the best of intentions but before long became another way for real music fans to be ripped off. Not necessarily by any small/independent record stores or the sorts of labels who supply much of the stock to such stores, but I’m more thinking about the majors who jumped on the bandwagon and issued all sorts of product for stupid prices, and in doing so tied up pressing plants at the expense of the smaller labels.

Oh and not forgetting the greedy fucks who got into the habit of going along on RSD for the sole purpose of hoovering up bundles of rare and in demand releases to then shove them on the internet within a matter of hours at vastly inflated prices. The sort of greedy fucks who ticket tout……

Anyways, this is probably the last thing I bought on the actual RSD and it was only because at the time I had everything ever released on vinyl by The Twilight Sad and I was also intrigued to hear what Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat would bring to a Twilight Sad number.

Limited edition of 500 on 7″ vinyl on Fat Cat Records.

mp3 : Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat – Alphabet
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – (If You) Keep Me In Your Heart

One thing I’ll say. Both acts make the songs sound as if they are their own rather than covers.  But both ultimately are not a patch on the originals.

Enjoy.

SO WHAT’S BEEN HAPPENING THIS PAST TWO WEEKS??

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Many thanks for continuing to drop by while I was away chilling in the Caribbean with the missus – batteries were fully recharged until a bit of a nightmare journey home courtesy of the incompetence of British Airways, although a word of praise to the security folk at Gatwick Airport whose helpful approach ensured that we caught our connection back to Glasgow by the skin of our teeth and so avoided the nightmare of a six and a bit hour delay combined with hoping somehow there were spare seats on later flights.

I was delighted to see that so many folk were still happy to leave behind comments  – as I’ve mentioned before that’s the aspect, together with the guest postings, that make all the time and effort put into this all worthwhile.  Which kind of brings me round nicely to this….

Hi JC

We’re pleased to be able to again invite you to take part in the 2015 Scottish BAMS (Blogs and Music Sites) Award.

For those of you who don’t know, the BAMS* (Bloggers and Music Sites) was inaugurated and run for the first 4 years by Lloyd from the Peenko blog. In recent years other bloggers have helped make it happen.

Past winners have been:

2009 The Phantom Band – ‘The Wants’
2010 The National – ‘High Violet’
2011 Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat – ‘Everyone’s Getting Older’
2012 Meursault- ‘Something for the Weakened’
2013 CHVRCHES – ‘The Bones of What You Believe’
2014 The Twilight Sad – ‘Nobody Wants to be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave’

Unlike, say, the SAY Award the BAMS don’t have £20k to give away. But, as well as the prestige, we have something even more exciting for the winner than that – some vintage tonic wine – if we can work out how to get the bottle to the winner.

This year we’re again asking you to vote for up to TEN LPs released in 2015. As usual, your choices need not be restricted to Scottish LPs but can take in any album released during the course of 2015.

Ideally you will rank your LPs from 1-10 but if you can’t separate 2 (or more) LPs, we’ll award an average of the points* for the equivalent places in your list. You don’t need to submit as many as 10 choices to take part but we’d ask you, please, not to submit any more than 10.

The deadline for submission of votes will be 10 p.m. on Friday 7th January – we’ll confirm nearer the time when the announcement of the winner will take place but it’s likely to be a couple of weeks after that.

Cheers

I was thinking however, that rather than it being a personal list, my preference would be to invite all T(n)VV readers to fire across an e-mail with their Top 10s for 2015 from which I will submit a collective entry for the 2015 BAMS. And strangely enough, S-WC and Badgerman have already done so without being asked in advance – as will be revealed in a guest posting in the next 2-3 days.

So if you’re up for this, please drop a line to thevinylvillain@hotmail.co.uk; it would be helpful if you could head up any e-mails BAMS 2015 : MY TOP 10 so that I can easily keep track of any submissions.

Just a quick word on the BAMS 2014 winners The Twilight Sad who I caught playing live last Saturday at the Barrowlands just 24 hours or so after getting home. They are gearing up for a momentous year as they have been given the accolade of opening for The Cure when they embark on a mammoth world tour – it’s already at 60 dates and growing. On the basis of the blistering, sonically booming show last Saturday they are more than ready for the task in hand and have a sound that will not sound out-of-place within any of the vast arenas in which they will be performing.

I’m delighted for them as they have worked tirelessly over the past seven or so years since the debut material was released and haven’t always taken the easy route of just churning out similar sounding albums time and time again. They’ve looked on as a number of bands who emerged from Scotland around the same time, as well as a number of more recently formed bands, have found not just critical acclaim but a fair degree of fame and fortune and not once have any of the Twilight Sad expressed any bitterness or regret about their lot. They have been slowburners in much the same way as R.E.M. and James were back in the day. And the other thing they have in common with those particular bands is that it has taken a lengthy period of time for the singer and main focus of attention to have his confidence, self-belief and stage presence finally match his vocal talents and connect with an audience in a way that is truly awe-inspiring. The Twilight Sad are in a great place right now and I really hope that 2016 is the making of them in commercial terms.

Here’s a single of theirs – not included on any of their four albums – that was a particular highlight of the Barrowlands show.

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – The Wrong Car

Enjoy

* forgot to mention that BAMS also has another connotation in the Scottish vernacular.  It is a shortened form of the word bampots which is best translated as idiots.  And yes, Lloyd Peenko knew exactly what he was doing when he came up with the acronym for the awards back in 2009.

SOME NEW MUSIC FOR A CHANGE

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It’s been kicking around the internet for a few months now that Robert Smith of The Cure had been asked and agreed to do a cover of a song by The Twilight Sad.

He has been a fan of the band for years and there had been hopes that he would have been able to get involved in the remix version of the No One Can Ever Know LP but that didn’t work out due to work and touring commitments. However, having been given a copy of the band’s newest LP Nobody Wants Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave and described it as ‘BEAUTIFUL’ he was then approached with what the band thought was an audacious request to cover one of their songs for inclusion as a future b-side. And to their great delight he said yes and selected There’s A Girl In The Corner which is the opener on the latest LP.

The version has been available to listen to on the web for a long while now, but knowing that I was going to physically get a hold of the track via the purchase of the single, I decided I would wait until I had the piece of plastic in my hands before ever my first ever listen. I wanted to hark back to those days when buying 7″ singles provided a sense of adventure as playing a new song by a much-loved singer or band via a b-side provided real excitement.

I was pleased to read that the version Smith had recorded was brand new – I had a fear it was going to be karaoke by numbers with him just supplying a new vocal to the Sad’s music. But there it was on the sleeve : “Voices and Instruments by Robert Smith. Engineered, Produced and Mixed by Robert Smith at Homestudio. Assisted by Bunny Lake.”

This however, only provided a new fear.

What if it was rubbish in comparison to the original?

I should remind regular readers that I went for The Twilight Sad very early on in the Imaginary Albums series specifically to avoid the dilemma of having to include songs from their then upcoming album. It was a great move on my part as it is a really mature and classy record that also sounded magnificent in the live setting with a gig in Stirling last December rounding off what had been an exceptional and i doubt ever to be repeated year of live music thanks in the main to so many special events that supported Glasgow staging the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The song the band had chosen for this single – It Was Never The Same – is a standout from the album as indeed is the song Smith had selected.

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – There’s A Girl In The Corner
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – It Was Never The Same

These were high standards…….and so just seven days ago, at the end of what has been a trying and difficult few days, I gave it a spin:-

mp3 : Robert Smith – There’s A Girl In The Corner

If I had heard this without knowing the original then I’d have been hugely impressed with the fact that the best part of 40 years on since bursting onto the scene that Robert Smith still had a great ability to deliver marvellous music.

In other words….I was impressed. Very Impressed.

But to add some additional other words…..it ain’t as good as the original. Which confirms the conclusion I’ve been coming to over the past nine months or so since the fourth album was released and on the back of what have been some unforgettable live outings in different formats over the past few years.

The Twilight Sad are the best band going right now.

No arguments please.

N/O/C/E/K

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A wee treat for fans of The Twilight Sad.

Back in early 2012 the band released their third studio album. No One Can Ever Know was a work that shocked and stunned a lot of folk with a very clear move away from the ‘wall of sound’ guitars that had dominated the previous LPs into something that was heavily reliant on a dark and moody synth sound.  It was an album that I adored on its release with my appreciation heightened by a spellbinding performance in the confines of the Grand Ole Opry in Glasgow, a venue that 99.99% of the time caters for country music and Americana.

Later in the year the band went that bit further with the experimentation by authorising the release of No One Can Ever Know : The Remixes which was, as the name suggests a collection of remixes of songs from the album, many of which were quite experimental and more likely to appeal to fan of those doing the remixing than those who had gone nuts for the first two Twilight Sad LPs. Me?  I’m very happy to be counted in as a fan of the remix effort although I was a little disappointed that it was primarily the same songs that got the treatment with the nine tracks comprising three versions of Sick and two each of Nil, Not Sleeping and Alphabet.

But for diehard fans there was even more to come thanks to the existence of No One Can Ever Know : Tour EP which the band made available as a digital download when you placed an order through their online store or, as in my fortunate case, as one of 300 physical copies put on sale at the merchandise stall when the band went out on the road. It’s actually something the band are very good at in terms of rewarding loyal fans – over the year I’ve picked up a some limited edition mementos including CDs and prints.

The Tour EP offered up one entirely new song (in demo form), three new slowed-down versions* of tracks from the parent album and two songs otherwise only available on hard to get limited edition singles:-

mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Idiots (demo)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Alphabet (alternate version)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Not Sleeping (alternate version)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Untitled #67
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – Another Bed (alternate version)
mp3 : The Twilight Sad – A Million Ignorants

(* and in the case of Alphabet, a heart-wrenchingly beautiful rendition that is my favourite version of the song)

I’ve also discovered a cracking fan site devoted to the band. You can visit by clicking here on the new link I’ve put up on the right hand side of the blog.

Enjoy