THE TWILIGHT SAD: it’s been a year (Photos/Review)

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It’s been a year for the Twilight Sad. Parting ways with drummer Mark Devine. The enormous highs of a world tour with The Cure. The profound and almost unsurmountable lows of losing a brother and friend, with the death of Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison. And yet, the Twilight Sad persevered.

Their new album, due in January 2019, is a reminder: It Won/t Be Like This All The Time. No, it won’t, you hope, and in the new songs they’re playing on the road, (“I/m not here”, “Videograms” and “VTR”) singer James Graham is being more upfront about what he’s feeling. And that’s the start, isn’t it? You just got have to put it out there. Honesty and vulnerability tether you to the world. And Twilight Sad’s James Graham is still holding on.

Twilight Sad/photo Mikala FolbAnd thank all the gods for that. After the show, Graham will, with whiskey in hand from a bottle a fan left up on stage, sign many posters, and hug many people. They will stand doe-eyed and patient to talk to him. He’ll express surprise to you that so many people showed up to the show, even though it was a small venue. You tell him that we’ve held the band in our hearts this year and that you’ll continue to do what you can to support. His smile will cloud a little, you’ll see a flash of pain at the mention of the year they’ve had, but he brings you in for a hug. He apologizes for not being on social media as much – he’s spending more time on the phone goofing around with his wee son. You think, yes, that is the better way to spend one’s time.

Meanwhile, new drummer – from Cinncinati, Ohio – Sebastien Schultz and you will talk about other Cinci bands, and Scott, just for a bit. He’ll say that he’s grateful because it’s Frightened Rabbit that brought him together with the Twilight Sad. His former band Bad Veins toured with FR. And in two days, they’re all headed to New York to celebrate Scott’s brother (and FR drummer) Grant Hutchison as he gets married. The photos from the day looked lovely.

But in between all that, there was the music, of course. A smattering from all albums, starting with “There’s a Girl in the Corner” and onto “That Summer, At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy”.  Graham does what he does best, disappearing deep into the songs, diving to the bottom and coming out sometimes gasping. His eyes close or roll back. In “Last January” and “It Never Was The Same”, Graham’s he gets lost in it. But he swims out at the end, always looking slightly surprised at where he’s landed, and what he’s doing. He stalks the small stage. He smiles and thanks the people gathered. He sometimes looks as if he’s praying or thanking someone for their guidance from on high. He is every ounce intensity and intention to whatever song is there, and for this dedication, remains among the best frontmen around. His musical other half, Andy Macfarlane, lets Graham handle all the emotions. He, instead, solidly supports on guitar, no less focused, but otherwise stonefaced. Brendan Smith is on keys. Johnny Docherty on bass. They’ve all had a year.

“Cold Days from the Birdhouse” is the second to last, and Graham says that the band had originally said they’d only play it for very special occasions, and yet they’ve been playing it every night for a while now. The room falls silent, save for the clink of beer bottles at the back.

“You make it your own
But this is where your arm can’t go
And your red sky at night won’t follow me
It won’t follow me now…”

…Graham bellows, piercing, and in your gothic mind, skies open up in cymbals and guitar crashes and you could almost literally hear hearts swelling and bursting around you. And for a moment it felt like a very special occasion indeed.

Afterward, you hand Graham back his glass of whiskey and he jokes that you better have not put any E in it. The last time you saw them all was in a Vegas hotel hallway, about to open for The Cure, and we joked that the Twilight Sad in Vegas was indeed a funny thing. And before that, you saw them in Amsterdam. And before that, it was you who handed them a bottle of Scotch before our photoshoot. You hope it isn’t that long before you see them again, and you wish them well on their day off tomorrow. Graham promises that he’ll spend most of the day in bed. He vows to come back soon, and so you give him another hug and say goodbye. And you thank all the gods that, despite what their new song says, that they are here, and that the Twilight Sad remain, being honest, and staying tethered to the world.\m/

Twilight Sad/photo Mikala Folb

Twilight Sad/photo Mikala Folb

Twilight Sad/photo Mikala Folb

Twilight Sad/photo Mikala Folb

Twilight Sad/photo Mikala Folb

Twilight Sad/photo Mikala Folb

Twilight Sad/photo Mikala Folb

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