The Twilight Sad - live in Cambridge (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Twilight Sad

live in Cambridge (2018)

live show

This was the much-anticipated return to the Boston area for Scottish post-punk revivalists/indie rockers the Twilight Sad, who were coming here to promote their forthcoming album, It Won/t Be Like This All the Time. They hadn’t been here since roughly 2016, when they were supporting the Cure on a big North American tour (which I’d completely goofed on and missed at the time). Not to stereotype, but it seemed by some of the older folk in this crowd hanging out on a late-ish Tuesday night, they may have picked up some fans on that tour. (Local trio You People opened the show with some fairly low-rent, noisy and occasionally kraut-y early ‘90s alt-rock/post-hardcore type stuff.)

The Twilight Sad walked out onto stage right at their scheduled time to very warm applause from the crowd. They kicked it off with the ominous ringing of “There’s a Girl in the Corner”, the opener to their most recent album, 2014’s Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants to Leave (the title of which was half-true here). With some lightboards set up around the stage flashing to accent the performance, the band played a fairly good mix of songs from all their albums save one -- 2009’s Forget the Night Ahead got the shaft, which was rather criminal. I’d say the songs that got the biggest reaction, from the most singing along to noticeable cheering, were cuts off their debut, 2007’s Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters. People still really love that album, and I like it, but I definitely prefer when they started to more heavily incorporate their post-punk and shoegaze influences following it.

They used this set to preview and showcase that upcoming new album, playing four songs off it including the catchy and darkly pleading “I/m Not Here [missing face]”, and the very sad and very ‘80s, synth-driven “Videograms”. But as aforementioned, they hardly ignored the older stuff. They did at least play a song from the Forget the Night Ahead era, “The Wrong Car”, an epic non-album cut from a standalone EP at the time that remains one of their finest songs to date.

Most of the five-piece band were pretty stoic while playing their instruments, leaving much of the dramatic expressions to frontman James Graham. He often looked rather sullen, emotively inhabiting the characters of the band’s songs while occasionally grabbing the mic stand and taking it around the front of the stage with himself, shouting to the heavens or sneering into the mic as he did on “Don’t Move” and “I/m Not Here”. Heck, he looked possessed during “And She Would Darken the Memory”. They closed with a song that’s become a set staple, a cover of Frightened Rabbit’s “Keep Yourself Warm” in tribute to that band’s own frontman, Scott Hutchison, who sadly took his own life this past May. Hutchison’s band was certainly an influence on the Twilight Sad, leading the modern triumvirate of Scottish indie rock bands during their time (We Were Promised Jetpacks being the third, of course). Though they’ve basically been playing this song every night, Graham really, genuinely looked shaken up towards the end of the song. He found his resolve enough to give a gracious thank you and end a great night.

Set list (10:15-11:27):

1. There’s a Girl in the Corner

2. That Summer, at Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy

3. Don’t Move

4. I/m Not Here [missing face]


5. Last January

6. The Arbor


7. VTr

8. It Never Was the Same

9. Videograms

10. The Wrong Car

11. Cold Days from the Birdhouse


12. And She Would Darken the Memory

13. Keep Yourself Warm [Frightened Rabbit cover]