There’s a decent crowd in the Ruby Lounge to see Kilsyth’s the Twilight Sad’s first Manchester date for a couple of years, as part of a series of dates to promote their excellent second LP, 'Forget the Night Ahead'.

Taking the stage looking more like the cast of 'Trainspotting' than one of Scotland’s finest experimental indie bands, the Twilight Sad waste no time in launching into 'Reflections of the Television', the opening track on their new LP.

Singer James Graham, cropped of hair and driven of eye, proves the main focal point of the band, as his colleagues diligently go about their business of crafting melodic walls of guitar noise, held in check by Mark Devine’s drumming, without much in the way of emotion or unnecessary movement.

Debut single, 'That Summer, at Home I Had Become the Invisible Boy', playfully noted on their set list as 'Hit Single', is next up and showcases Graham’s distinctly Scottish lungs perfectly, before he again steals centre stage with a staggering and animated performance of 'I Became a Prostitute'.

The rest of the band are not without considerable talent as they take elements of criminally underrated 90’s shoe-gazers Adorable and 'Sea Monsters'-era Wedding Present to provide the ideal musical tapestry for Graham to weave his, at times, obtuse lyrical observations.

After a great rendition of 'Here, It Never Snowed', current single and arguably the band’s finest moment to date, 'Seven Years of Letters', is surprisingly reeled off mid set. Indeed it is testament to the quality of the band’s canon of songs that they are able to make the second half of the set as enjoyable as the first, despite three of their four singles having already been played.

A couple of solid cuts from 'Forget the Night Ahead', 'The Room' and 'That Birthday Present' are warmly received by the crowd, before a set is concluded with a trio of tracks from the band’s first LP, 'Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters'.

'And She Would Darken the Memory' ('Rabbit' on the set list!) is the first of these and is quite wonderful, while 'Cold Days from the Birdhouse' doesn’t disappoint either. 'I’m Taking the Train Home' is, however, a stunning closer and the unexpected highlight of the show, making mincemeat of its recorded self. Graham’s vocal duties finish mid song and he spends about two minutes stood motionless staring menacingly at the audience, before leaving his band mates to finish the song themselves

There is no encore, but the band are quickly out front to sell their merchandise. Here it becomes apparent that despite his focused stage persona, James Graham is a genuinely nice guy, keen to talk with and sincerely thank fans for coming. He is completely humble about his band’s ability to attract a crowd, but on tonight’s evidence he really shouldn’t be. They were once described as ‘The Scottish National’, but now The National should be honoured to be known as ‘The American Twilight Sad’, for the Twilight Sad are an exceptional band bound for greatness.

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Commenting On: Ruby Lounge, Manchester, 23/10/2009 - Twilight Sad

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