Despite clashing with Scotland’s efforts at upstaging football’s reigning world champions, Edinburgh’s Liquid Room is rammed with pale-faced indie urchins tonight. The reason? Two of the country’s most intense acts are moments away from plying their hearing-aid busting trade in the venue’s freshly re-constructed stage.
Billed as a duel between a duo of amply busted blondes, the titillating pre-gig posters prove disappointingly off-kilter. Still, when you’re talking about a pairing as cacophonous as The Twilight Sad and Errors, it’s difficult to quibble over misleading marketing. In fact, there’s a tinge of a relief it’s a lingerie-free show.
After two weeks on the road, Errors are struggling to shake off the tour bus cramps. The slow methodical opening notes of 'Bridge or Cloud?' filter out wearily, like the aspirin-seeking fumble induced by a morning after. But once the mechanics of their idiosyncratic machine get going, the Rock Action-signed quartet shift into a frenetic pace.
Although difficult to pin down on record, Errors live are a much more transparent experience. Math dalliances run down the band’s spine and educated time signatures noodle through every number. Simon Ward’s inter-song bouts of laconic self-deprecation may suggest they’re all too ready to play the fool, but this is a band that demands to be taken seriously.
Tonight’s action is spellbinding; rattling to the sound of discordant, cowbell-stained cuts while drummer James Hamilton pummels skins with marathon man ambitions. At times the retrograde synths float dangerously close to hands-to-the-heavens dancefloor cheese, but when the brazenly ambitious 'Mr Milk' is bruised into the mix such annoyances are easy to forgive.
Swaying together in krautrock hypnosis, Errors’ patchwork of guitar, effects and drum tighten to the point of rigor mortis, setting limbs in an epileptic trance to 'Salut France!' and 'Toes'. As this perspiring pit of a venue will testify, it’s the sound of a band pushing to its peak.
You could argue The Twilight Sad are making their descent from Errors’ destination. Forget The Night Ahead, last year’s follow up to the much lauded Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters, failed to click with the music buying droves and their troubles were compounded by bassist Craig Orzel’s sudden departure. Suddenly a sullen band just got morbid.
But the Kilsyth quartet are a resilient mob and new songs 'The Wrong Car' and 'Throw Yourselves Into The Water Again' prove there’s enough fuel to light their excruciatingly loud furnace. And by firing into the former with the violence of a midnight mugging, James Graham is hell bent on denying eager obituary writers their ‘should have been so much more’ soundbites.
Tonight, The Twilight Sad are merciless: deafening in volume and unnervingly precise in execution. As Graham’s aggressive, often indecipherable, intone growls its way around 'I Became A Prostitute' and the absorbing 'That Summer At Home I Had Become The Invisible Boy', a congealed mass of noise shudders behind, quickly making its way through the floorboards.
The problem with Graham’s demented stage-prowling is that the band’s vastly improved musical ear tends to be overlooked. Instead of pulverising venues straight down the middle, they’ve added an all-consuming air to their performance; as if they’ve finally mastered the art of filling a room. Of course, this is still gargantuan, ear-raping stuff, but now it’s executed with steely purpose.
While few numbers here are drawn from album number two, tonight’s roaring reawakening suggests a more fitting long-player may not be far off. Closing with a ferocious, claustrophobic rendition of 'And She Would Darken The Memory', The Twilight Sad are becoming what we always thought they could be: a band to be scared of.
Photos: Su Anderson