The Twilight Sad, Take a Worm For a Walk Week & Indian Red Lopez – The Warehouse – 01/04/10
A late finish at work meant that by the time I’d got home, changed, fed and driven through to Aberdeen, local boys Indian Red Lopez were already onstage doing their thing when I got into the Warehouse. It also meant that, in my rush, I’d left my camera behind in Peterhead so no pics with this review – sorry.
Anyway, I quickly got a drink and headed down to the sparsely populated dancefloor taking a spot on the edge of the (fairly sizeable) “semi-circle of doom”. The first thing I notice is the random images being projected over the band onto a screen at the rear of the stage. Aside from a couple of weak red spots, this is the only stage lighting used. I’ve always been a sucker for that from the days of early Cabaret Voltaire etc. A good start.
The second thing I notice is they have three guitarists. Yes, three. Plus keys plus drums plus bass, who occasionally does second keys. However, the songs don’t sound in any way crowded. Quite the reverse in fact. They give the impression of space in sorta the same way as, say Bloc Party records feel “airy” despite their busy arrangements. Not to say that IRL sound anything like that band cos they don’t. They just have to have the same knack of giving fairly complex songs a semblance of simplicity which allows them to be more easily absorbed. Clever.
So what do they sound like then? Hard to pin down really, but maybe a less fraught Radiohead would be heading roughly in the direction I guess. Being a novice, I’m not acquainted with song titles but I was well impressed by the second last tune while my companion for the evening preferred the last number. He also informed me that this hadn’t been their best gig he’d seen. However, I was quietly impressed and will make an effort to see them again soon.
So more drinks procured, we were chatting to some friends in the bar area when second support, the bizarrely named Take A Worm For A Walk Week took to the stage and started their first song. Within seconds I knew I had to take a closer look so headed back to the considerably smaller “semi-circle of doom”. If you can imagine the bastard offspring of the Magic Band and the Birthday party playing Tom Waits songs with Devo rhythms then you’re part way there. If you then front the band with a portly, heavily tattooed, psychotic sex-pest then you have Take A Worm For A Walk Week. With their jerky, frantic blues riffing backing dark tales of fisting and other acts of depravity, they laid waste to the Warehouse and negated everything that had gone before. Singer/shouter/yelper Joe Quimby stares out the drop-jawed spectators at the front of the thickening crowd as he nonchalantly recounts tales of deviant encounters by way of introduction to the next Beefheartian assault, before skipping and spazz-dancing his way around the stage. It’s primal, cathartic stuff and, for me anyway, the unexpected high-spot of the evening.
I’d have gone home happy at this point and I definitely wonder how the Twilight Sad will follow it. However, there’s enough of a break as the stage is cleared to allow the mood to settle and the dancefloor to fill as the kids prepare themselves for the main event of the evening.
Eventually the band take to the stage and I notice that the Worm’s guitar player is also playing bass for the headliners. We’re given much thanks for coming out tonight before, as with last album Forget The Night Ahead, tonight’s show starts with the slow burning build up of Reflection Of The Television. It’s a big sound, with waves of guitar dominating, drums pounding the tune along. Singer James Graham is soon lost in the music, eyes closed, head shaking from side to side when he’s not delivering his mournful lines. It’s a great introduction and gets a glowing reception from the by now packed dancefloor.
We get a curt “Cheers” from Graham and that’s it for pretty much the whole set. There’s no interaction with the crowd at all, not even eye contact, the band seemingly happy to let their music do the talking. And talk it does, for the main part. The songs from the recent album sit comfortably alongside the earlier material and take on a tremendous power in the live setting.
But……at times, the Twilight Sad’s simple arrangements with the waves of layered guitar can be a bit dirge-like and it’s only Graham’s rich Kilsyth brogue that brings the clarity, the structure to the songs. Tonight it was posted missing too often for this to be a truly great set. Not entirely his fault although he was singing off-mic fairly regularly due to his intense delivery. He wasn’t helped much by the Warehouse sound which left me hearing the renditions of the tone-deaf indie-kid at my shoulder over those of the main-man for parts of the set.
However, it most certainly wasn’t a total write off. Far from it. There were moments of real magic within the set tonight where everything clicked into place showing the brilliance of the band. The single Seven Years Of Letters was particularly good but Made To Disappear maybe even eclipsed it, with Graham’s soaring vocal lifting the song to another level. You know that point where you’re so locked into the music you can feel it in your chest.
But these moments were too sparse over the course of the set and the extended wig-out at the end of the set closer also left me cold. Maybe the band sensed too that it hadn’t been their finest hour. We were warmly thanked once again for coming out but there was no encore, despite the best efforts of the hardcore at the front.
All in all, it was a good night out. I don’t think you can grumble when you get three decent bands for under a tenner and you’re out on the street by 10:30.
Final scores :
Indian Red Lopez – 6/10
TAWFAWW – 9/10
Twilight Sad – 7/10
New York Johnny
The Twilight Sad MySpace
Take a Worm For a Walk Week MySpace
Indian Red Lopez MySpace