Music review: The Twilight Sad, Usher Hall, Edinburgh

“I never thought this would happen, honestly,” James Graham paused to tell us. Looking out across the heaving full house here for his band the Twilight Sad, their singer’s response was mixed with customary humility, as though all concerned were doing him a grudging favour. “Thank you every one of you for spending your hard-earned money.”

The Twilight Sad
The Twilight Sad

The Twilight Sad, Usher Hall, Edinburgh *****

To those who have known the band over the years, The Twilight Sad’s journey has been one of the greatest underdog stories in Scottish music in recent times. By the time they signed to Mogwai’s Rock Action label in 2018, the quintet from Kilsyth were four albums into a career marked out by cult appreciation, but the barest subsistence-level financial returns.

Plagued by the kind of self-doubt which permeates their anthemic music, they considered calling it quits - until world touring with their heroes and sonic inspirations the Cure, along with UK top 20 success for their fifth album It Won/t Be Like This All the Time earlier this year, opened the floodgates for this very point to arrive, 90 minutes of affirmation which declared every moment was worth it.

Saturated with gloom but something quite opposite to despair, their set cycled through the chiming gothic rock of newer tracks Shooting Dennis Hopper Shooting and VTr, to the very early classics Cold Days from the Birdhouse and And She Would Darken the Memory, with an extremely emotional cover of Frightened Rabbit’s Keep Yourself Warm paying tribute to Graham’s friend Scott Hutchison.

The link between the two bands and their fans is tangible, and in the Twilight Sad’s newfound adoration, there is a sense that the former’s spirit is being paid tribute to. Amid it all, Graham seemed to recognise what a deserved moment of absolute triumph this gig represented. David Pollock