It’s a homecoming that most bands would only dream of. Twin Atlantic could easily have filled the 13,000 capacity SSE Hydro arena to cap off their GLA tour, but instead they opted for three sold out nights in the modest surroundings of the Barrowlands; the legendary venue providing the stage for one of the most triumphant rock shows of the year.
It’s only fitting that they should finish up in Glasgow at the very place which played host to their gigs through the breakout years; 2016 has been all about Twin Atlantic returning to their roots. Named after their hometown, third album GLA explores their turbulent relationship with the city while recapturing the bombastic alt-rock energy of their early material. Describing it as the ‘album they’ve been trying to make for years’, it felt like a massive turning point for the band when it was released; and this invigorated energy and confidence is clear for all to see throughout the gig. A Glasgow band playing to a Glasgow crowd, celebrating an album about Glasgow. It makes for one hell of a night.
The riff-heavy ‘Gold Elephant: Cherry Alligator’ kicks things off in thrilling fashion with bursts of red and white lighting, before the menacing ‘You Are The Devil’ keeps the relentless pace going. Other GLA highlights include ‘The Chaser’, a singalong anthem that wouldn’t sound out of place on Great Divide, and a muscular take on ‘Valhalla’; its strutting rhythms and emphatic chorus transforming it into an entirely different beast live than on record. Elsewhere ‘Ex El’ stands out thanks to Sam McTrusty’s unbelievable vocal performance; his defiant shrieks of ‘I can’t change!’ echoing around the room
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It’s a set that highlights Twin Atlantic’s new sense of versatility more than anything. McTrusty’s crunching solo performance of ‘Mothertongue’ is paired with an emotional singalong of crowd favourite ‘Crash Land’ to provide a poignant moment in an otherwise frenzied set. The former is one of the band’s most personal and emotionally vulnerable moments to date; exploring the struggle to accept your identity and the fine line between loving and loathing the place you are from. Without becoming cheesy, the frontman’s heartfelt delivery strongly resonates with the audience who duly give him a rapturous reception.
Interspersed among the newer material, there are also a good few gems from their previous records. Old favourites ‘Edit Me’ and ‘Free’ are met with an impassioned response while diehard fans are gifted two outings from the 2010 Vivarium EP, ‘Human After All’ and ‘Old Grey Face’; the latter given its first performance in Glasgow since 2011. It shows how far the band have developed since then. Sam McTrusty is now every inch the rock star; both in appearance and attitude. He prowls the stage, whipping the audience into a frenzy at every opportunity while receiving roars of approval after everything he says; always keen to show appreciation for the crowd with whom he shares such a special bond. His showmanship is matched by the arena-quality show around him; lighting and sound coming together to dramatic effect throughout. From the outset you can feel Ross McNae’s pounding basslines while Barry McKenna’s sharp guitar work takes each song to a new level. The four-piece may have chosen a more intimate venue this time around, but nothing has been stripped back. In fact, the effect is magnified; everything sounds massive and all the more muscular.
As the set rushes to a close, they divert to the chest-beating, stadium-bating anthems of Great Divide with the likes of ‘Hold On’, ‘Brothers And Sisters’ and ‘Heart And Soul’ appearing before ‘No Sleep’ provides the epic finale. Climbing over the shoulders of the crowd, McTrusty offers them one last chance to go crazy; falling backwards into a crowdsurf as the hall plunges into darkness in time with the mosh-ready riffs and defiant chorus.
The crowd can leave knowing that they’ve just witnessed a band who are well and truly at the top of their game; it’s safe to say they won’t be playing a venue this size again for quite some time.