- The Twilight Sad
It’s a brutal clear winter’s night and the trek from the town centre to the grandiosity of the Olympia feels like a begrudging task. The weather has taken a sharp U-turn seeing light jackets, T-shirts and trainees now replaced by a more thermal affair of scarves and hats. However, tonight’s musical affair would feel ill-placed set against a sea of vitamin D-enriched gig goers jaunting around in short sleeves and bare skin. The soundscapes which lie before us are the soundscapes of winter; dark, nuanced with glimmers of hope from the low winter sun. There’s hope to be had in the that much needed light which fills our grey shadows at this time of year.
Upon arriving inside the mood is similar as T-shirts glare back at these eyes emblazoned with the words ‘Brexit: is shite’. A play on their original 90s design which read ‘Blur: are shite’, the modern design sees how the playful patriotism of the Britpop era has been replaced by a more sinister and malevolent jingoism. One harnessed by baby boomers that will see the country rot and decay in the name of misplaced trust in tabloid journalism. Blue passports don’t cover red-faced xenophobia.
Opening for the post-rock juggernauts is one of Scotland’s best-loved contemporaries of alternative guitar music, THE TWILIGHT SAD. Signed to Mogwai’s own Rock Action Records, the group burst onto stage with brooding gothic rock. The atmosphere is punctuated by a thick Scottish brogue and the set reaches its heartfelt peak with a tribute to the late Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit. The cover of Keep Yourself Warm is an emotional moment and a fitting tribute to one of modern Scotland’s brightest musical talents. With the band finishing we wander to the smoking area to chat to a Scot who shows us both his Frightened Rabbit and Twilight Sad tattoos, moments after he’d been dancing a slow waltz, the ink weaving between ligament and vein and artery spinning and swirling, now still but permanent.
Escaping the Baltic conditions we take our seats up on the balcony. The lights fade along with the surrounding faded glamour, the original Xbox adverts for Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell and the dining tables which lay behind us. As Mogwai enter the stage under the cover of darkness we are held in seconds of sensory deprivation but then it all flows back. There’s a certain calm but there’s a sense of what’s to come as the light and amp rigs burst into life. Not a bunch of swaggering, cock-rocking wankers, the group seem to use the set up as a means to focus fully on sound and vision. We’re left to delve deep into the blisteringly loud depths of which we have been swallowed as brilliant reds and luscious blues flood the theatre. Moments of serenity are shattered by blasts of sonic destruction accompanied by blinding light. Through the ethereal waves ebb moments of harsh reality, as if ascending slowly to absolution before hurtling head-first towards near apocalypse. There are only brief moments between songs Mogwai emerging from the abyss to utter a simple “thank you”. Then it’s straight back into the deep. At any moment the ceiling feels as though it could collapse as lighting fixtures rattle under the strain of the wall of sound. Somehow my usually anxiety ridden head feels completely at ease with this thought. With one last thunderous epiphany they are gone. There’s a sense of pure elation as I leave with the room still ringing in my ears. I leave calmer and happier. Happier than the makings of a cold winter can suggest.