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Twin Atlantic in London

Live Review

Venue: Red Bull Studios, London

Scottish rockers launch album Great Divide with intimate London show

With new album Great Divide released this week, the lads in Twin Atlantic have a lot to be happy about. It's a superb follow up to 2011’s Free, and cements their place as one of the finest young rock bands in the country. Tonight the band celebrate this long-awaited release with an intimate acoustic set at London’s Red Bull Studios. Here's what it made us think.

As soon as they take to the stage, the boys are beaming, especially guitarist Barry McKenna, who has the sort of huge grin that suggests he’s spent the past half hour back stage being tickled by his band mates. It seems like morale within the band appears to be at an all-time high.

The disinterested, ‘cool’ folk are even more annoying than usual.

Just like that one kid at your birthday party who stuck his face in your cake or wet himself on your new bike before you’ve even had a chance to go on it, there are those who always have to ruin a good time. Although there's nothing as drastic as annihilated cake or unwelcome urine tonight, those who hang around the bar and talk rather than watch the band are far more audible at this type of acoustic show. This is even pointed out by drummer Craig Kneale, who dedicates a song to the people “talking loudly at the bar”. Shhhhhhh! Nobody cares about your favourite Bulgarian beer or your trouser ironing routine!

The stripped-back versions of these songs really show how great a band they are.

Those paying attention get a real treat. Choosing to play a set comprised entirely of material off the new album, the bare bones delivery of these songs prove their strength. Sam McTrusty’s voice is as glorious live as it is on record, and set opener Oceans — stripped of the strings heard on the studio version — sounds nothing short of beautiful. And the huge, arena-threatening likes of Hold On and Brothers and Sisters show how much heart is at the core of the band and fill the room with a life-affirming atmosphere. Most surprising is Heart and Soul, a song transformed from a dancefloor stomper to a sassy, country-esque number that even the Dixie Chicks would approve of.

Craig Kneale is one of the most resourceful men in rock.

While an acoustic set usually means the drummer can kick back with a beer and have the night off, this is not the case for Twin Atlantic’s sticksman. As well as providing backing vocals for McTrusty he adds a subtle percussion accompaniment that sees him as the rock equivalent of Ray Mears. He may not fashion a drum kit out of twigs and a bivy bag, but along with his hand claps he improvises a bass drum beat by stomping on a guitar case, and generally puts a lot more effort in than all those other lazy drummers.

It's over all way too quickly.

At just four songs this is a very short and sweet set that leaves many wanting more. We’ll let them off seeing as they have a big weekend ahead of them with their sets at Reading and Leeds, but tonight provides a fantastic taster for what to expect. At an all time high, they’ve never sounded better and are sure to make a serious claim to be one of the highlights of the weekend. Miss them at your own peril!

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