The Twilight Sad, Hidden Orchestra at Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh, 9/10/14

After getting on the wrong train and a slight detour via Stirling I arrive in Edinburgh after the gig officially opens, however I still manage to catch half of Hidden Orchestra’s set.

Entering the venue all that can be heard from downstairs is a mad cacophony of noise, but heading upstairs and listening to The Orchestra start their next piece is beautiful.

The five-piece including; two drummers, a bassist, a violinist and a trumpeter, with a large collection of synthesisers, noise makers and other sonic sculpting tools carefully hidden from view but scattered around the members, create simply astounding textures and layers.

The few songs I do catch are beautifully arranged and orchestrated, featuring all the articulation of a big bang performance yet all the subtlety, intricacy and experimentation of seeing a small jazz group not content with playing standard pieces.

Truly a master class in the use of technology, but also in the ways it can be used with classical instruments, the highlight of the set comes from watching both drummers interact, they possess incredible skill, but they also tastefully play together creating incredibly complex yet strangely catchy rhythms with a mixture of different techniques and equipment to create a sophisticated and powerful rhythm section.

After a brief interval we are introduced to The Twilight Sad by Matthew (Song by Toad) who after a justified rant about the lack of music venues in Edinburgh talks about how much he enjoys the band, he also briefly thanks the venue, which is simply stunning, why it is not being used more often I will never understand.

The set tonight is stripped down but not quite unplugged, with the core of the band featured, although throughout the band’s past, during their noisier, full band sets, other members are often added but tonight, the three members prove to be all that is needed.

The set pulls from the band’s entire catalogue and features classics such as ‘That Summer, At Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy’, ‘The Wrong Car’, ‘Alphabet’ and ‘Walking for Two Hours’.

The band also give some tracks from their forthcoming LP some stage time, the highlight of these being ‘Last January’, this seems to cause a slight lapse in the audience attention but it’s generally been the case that Twilight Sad albums take a while to grow on you, still it’s also nice to hear the new tracks in a stripped back setting before we hear a different approach to them on the imminent album.

The Twilight Sad seem to possess a ridiculously rare quality to keep an audience silent throughout their performance, well aside from some laughter during ‘Cold Days from the Birdhouse’, which James Graham lets slide coupled with a few witty remarks.

Despite this interruption the performance is stellar and it’s a toss-up between ‘Cold Days…’ and ‘And She Would Darken the Memory’ for the best performance of the night, Graham thanks the crowd for coming ending the night with massive applause and giving the audience an idea as to what the new album may sound like.

Words: Phil Allen

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