Twin Atlantic

support The Xcerts
author TL date 11/11/14 venue Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN

It was pretty evident already on the band's first record "Vivarium" that Scottish rock quartet Twin Atlantic had their sights set on big things, and that feeling has only grown along with the release of 2011's follow-up "Free" and the band's shows in support of premium stadium rockers Thirty Seconds To Mars. Of course readers may have noticed our skepticism regarding the group's newest album "Great Divide", but if attendance at the group's Copenhagen show at Pumpehuset was ever in question, any doubts were instantly laid to rest when their fellow Scotsmen The Xcerts decided to postpone their own British shows in order to come along on Twin Atlantic's European trek. Both of The Xcerts' two albums have been excellent, but sadly this is a seriously overlooked fact, as is also seen tonight considering the modest crowd that's gathered in Pumpehuset tonight for the start of the support band's show.

All photos courtesy of Lykke Nielsen Photography

The Xcerts

Before talking about this, let it be noted that's live reviews are graded for the overall experience, meaning that poor conditions or a disinterested audience can hinder the grading of even the best band. Good, now that said, The Xcerts are much too good a band to be playing to the forty or so people that are spread out before them tonight - for a variety of reasons - but especially because you don't feel for a second like the show is beneath them. Murray Macleod on guitar and lead vocals and Jordan Smith on bass and back-up singing both look entirely the part of young rockstars who enjoy themselves on stage and are in it with their drummer Tom Heron for the right reasons, and it feels like the guys must at some point have made a concious decision that they would put on a good show even if they were playing to a wall. Their songs are built on traditional frameworks, especially newer ones aired such as "Live Like This", "Shaking In The Water" and "Pop Song", but they are also enrichened with seamless and superbly timed changes in tempo and intensity, which the bandmembers emphasize with their movements while playing, putting extra efforts into the chords and beats that give their music explosiveness.

There's room for older material as well, such as "He Sinks. He Sleeps" and "Do You Feel Safe", and while there's no more madness going on than some people actually singing along, Murray eventually breaks the tight performance up to express appreciation for those having shown up, as he expects that noone knows any of the songs. A few refute his claim, to which he responds by asking to learn how to say "you are fantastic" in Danish, and soon after he successfully makes use of the good mood spreading, to enlist even the back stairs to join in a singalong to the final song "Slackerpop". Through the whole performance the band sounds organic yet rehearsed to perfection, and other than a subtler variation of the normally belted "do you feel safe?" lyric in the song of the same name, Macleod's vocals are as good as on record, and you can clearly hear his words and the full volume of his tone. All in all it's a great boon for the early few that have showed up to see a band this good, and while you have to think of how much better it would be with more song and a room that seemed more full, it's very damn hard for any band to do as well in every category as The Xcerts do tonight - seemingly like it's something they're used to doing routinely as well.


Twin Atlantic

After the traditional break it becomes Twin Atlantic's tour, and as they kick off with force it becomes clear that in terms of tightness, they are right up there with their support band in looking 100% well-prepared for their tour. Naturally "Great Divide" material is favoured on this tour and the set opens with "Hold On" and "Fall Into The Party", and guitarist/lead-singer Sam McTrusty looks like he has a list of rockstar movements that he's bursting to get off, brandishing his guitar and stomping about whenever he has time off from the microphone. The backing vocals from guitarist Barry McKenna and bassist Ross McNae take a song's time before they find their way from out beneath Craig Kneale's dynamic drumming and into the mix, but from there on out Twin Atlantic sound good as well. Although the mix of dual-guitar arrangements and McTrusty's overall thinner vocals does blur somewhat, the words are still clear and the band storms through their first songs, including "Make A Beast Of Myself" from "Free".

Seeing the almost manic intensity McTrusty performs with, you quickly get the feeling that they've seen the rather unimpressive turnout - although it has grown as the night has gone on - and have chosen to adapt a "power through it" attitude. It thus feels like one long burst of energy as they proceed to treat us to tracks like "Apocalyptic Renegade" and "Edit Me", and McTrusty can be seen sipping something (water? extra oxygen?) from a tube sticking up from behind the amp setup. It makes sense, because his performance feels like that of an over-charged entertainment robot. He's just as precise and he knows how to look on stage but at the same time his energy does feel a bit impersonal. It's cool then, that you can look right over at McKenna and appreciate how he handles the band's piano bits one-handed when they substitute for his guitar riffs, and when the pace is finally halted for the balladic "Oceans", his work on the electric cello further showcases his versatility, even if it stays mixed too low until needed again later in "Crash Later".

The band finds time for older tracks such as "Yes, I Was Drunk" and "Free" as well as "What Is Light And Where Is Laughter", and while one wonders why a great, great song like "You're Turning Into John Wayne" is omitted, most in the audience look like they feel they're getting their money's worth. If you have scrutinised the band's records, you might notice the details that make the difference between the "Great Divide" songs and the previous material, such as the more elaborate composition of "Yes, I Was Drunk" or the sexy bass melody that enrichens the verse of "Make A Beast Of Myself" - the highly streamlined new songs rather make straight for the chorus without bothering with as elegant traits of personality, which is a shame, but in the live environment they still get the job done, as showcased towards the end via fine performances of "Brothers And Sisters" and finally "Heart And Soul", the latter of which gets an extra spirited reception during its cool chorus.

After "Heart And Soul", the set ends without an encore, which is no fault in itself, but it does feel symptomatic of the band being a bit disappointed with Denmark's (admittedly often disappointing) turn-out for the modern rock show. McTrusty echoes this feeling, voicing his appreciation for the people that are here and a hope that their next show here will have much more people "so we can have a much better party". And that's the one chink in Twin Atlantic's performance. The Xcerts flipped the mood and made everyone feel like they saw something impressive regardless of how many or few were in the audience. Twin Atlantic - aside from how impressively well they performed their music - do contaminate their crowd a bit, with the feeling that the evening isn't good enough unless the stage is large and the audience larger. A small complaint in the bigger scheme of things perhaps, but along with the fact that their newer material is a bit too uniform when listened to next to songs from their first two records, it makes sense leaving the stage just as Twin Atlantic does: Namely feeling ever so slightly underwhelmed, even if things were mostly exactly as they should be.

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