Warm and humming with enthusiasm, the Liverpool O2 Academy is plunged into darkness to accommodate for the familiar ritual of collective agitation. Faces hard with pensive forward stares, the crowd scrutinise the vacant instruments ahead of them, confronted only by the continued swallowing darkness and the prospect of the Glaswegian quartet who muster within. An atmosphere of anticipation pushes heavily on every surface, fastening forward the enthusiastic glares and encouraging a humidity of impatience to simmer throughout the room.
However, for many within the crowd, this heat is not entirely foreign. They would recall the last time alternative rock zealots, Twin Atlantic, headlined at Liverpool, performing at the notoriously sweltering venue, Korova.
Almost two hours earlier I had been sat with drummer, Craig Kneale, who was recalling that same gig. Through his unique yet contagious grin, he confessed: “It was nearly too hot to play”. Describing the experience of playing in Liverpool that night, he contended that it was “Definitely one of the most mental gigs we have ever played”. “It was a tiny little gig and it was really busy. Totally packed out. It was amazing!” added bassist, Ross McNae.
Infact, the venue was so reputably hot that Korova recently burnt down, an incident that Ross playfully puts down to “Too much rock!”
The shifting of bodies onstage is enough to cut the tension, if only for a second. Anxiety had been instantly replaced with a rumble of applause and the shuffling of feet as the feverish crowd condensed. While dry, expectant mouths were quenched by a flooding of incandescent light and the final sip of beer, the audience’s senses aptly heightened.
Frontman, Sam McTrusty, clenching guitar with white knuckles, confidently steps forward under the lamplight to reveal his stature. Fixed and buzzing, Sam makes his introductions, bending each word with his distinctive Scottish accent. Already, Twin Atlantic has indulged the room in their self-assured potential; McTrusty had lived up to the rumours.
Earlier that evening I had quoted Sam McTrusty’s ambitions to become one of the biggest bands in the world.
“I think we are probably a bit more modest in the way that we say it”, explained Craig. “I think we’ve definitely all got that same aspiration. You can’t aim for a middle-ground. That has to be the eventual goal”.
When asked to describe their most defining moments, Ross immediately suggests Twin Atlantic’s 2009 performance at T in the Park: “It’s a festival we used to go to or would still go to if we weren’t playing. Playing on an actual stage when people have come to see you – that’s the kind of thing that makes you think we are actually in a legitimate band!”
All this isn’t forgetting, of course, the abundance of big-name artists that Twin Atlantic have toured with. When you consider the likes of Blink 182, Smashing Pumpkins, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday and The Gaslight Anthem, it becomes clear that the lads are already tremendously accomplished. It comes as no surprise that they are so enthusiastic to get the most out of their own headline tour. UK aside, Craig details their forthcoming European tour dates…
“We were just lucky enough to get the opportunity to support a band called Angels & Airwaves. It’s not actually part of our tour, but it’s obviously an offer you cannot refuse!”
“Some of these places we have never played before, yet all these people are coming to see us. There’s a bit more atmosphere and that’s always really encouraging. Now we know we are going in the right direction”
Glancing around the crowded Academy, the tone generously reflects Twin Atlantic fame.
Collectively, the band take only a few moments to examine the crushing energy the audience push upon them, before throwing us into their new single Edit Me with such vigour that even the lighting engineer hesitates to react. The crowd, already ecstatic with anticipation, erupts with recognition, as the raucous transfers into movement. Onstage, the boys exchange smiles while the hardened frontman stares past stage-lights, bellowing into the crowd: ‘Is that all you’ve got, Liverpool!?!’
When asked about Edit Me Craig explains: “It’s really fun to play… It’s tricky to play. It’s quite an exciting song and short aswell”. Ross promptly admits his excitement with the new material: “It feels like a bit of a progression from the last time aswell. We’re playing two or three new songs this time around. It’s always good to spice things up with new material.”
When I probe over the new album, Free, Ross doesn’t hesitate to guarantee exciting new songs. Wide-eyed, he teases…
“We finished recording with Gil Norton (Foo Fighter, Pixies) five days before Christmas and are now at a point where we are getting mixes bounced backwards and forwards from California. The album will be released May the second. Its sounding really good and we are really really proud of it. Just can’t wait for people to hear it now”
Familiar with Twin Atlantic’s catalogue of music from album Vivarium and EPs before it, these fans are well rehearsed. Unrestrained, they remain visibly hungry throughout the evening. ‘I’m beginning to feel intimidated’, exclaims Sam during one interval.
The set continues with the contagious melodies of popular tracks What is Light? Where is Laughter? and Caribbean War Syndrome, launching sweat and energy from the stage. Craving the impending new material, the audience remains thirsty for the tonal twists in McTrusty’s hard singing-style and the new lyrics that form it. There is simply no denying the unique appeal of that addictive Glaswegian accent, nor the effortlessness with which Twin Atlantic stride the musical spectrum.
Showing no signs of retreat, the boys continue with ‘Lightspeed’.
The audiences cries of “Liaghtspid Liaghtspid!” deflect off Sam as he leans forward to join his fans. Extending out his guitar, he confronts the rush as it grows a flurry of arms.
As You’re Turning into John Wayne came to a close and the lights faded, the crowd composed themselves, returning to an impatient state of whistles and requests. A moment of inactivity onstage vindicates the restlessness in front of it. Not soon enough does the unrelenting quartet return for their encore, Crash Land, a track which, despite its obvious popularity, remains unrecorded. The four are received with the familiar vocal appreciation. Despite all that has passed over the last hour, I was convinced this level of energy could be sustained all night.
Twin Atlantic are an extremely talented, incredibly enthusiastic group of uncompromising musicians. Given what they have already achieved in such a short space of time, and the stamina with which they realise it, we can all expect even greater things from this Scottish outfit.