Camera Obscura and The Twilight Sad
Sunday January 27th, 2008
It is a simple rule, which, when generally applied, can be seen to be totally correct. Irish for talking, Scottish for singing. This collection of two of the best examples of Scottish vocals proves just that, and that there is a huge amount of room for diversity.
The Twilight Sad have wedged themselves firmly in most critics Best of 2007 lists, and for good reason following the frankly brilliant Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters LP. This is a band who have a buzz around them for the right reasons, fantastic song writing and musicianship which is just as strong. From the moment that Cold Days From The Birdhouse eases what must effectively be seen as a crowd who prefer their music to be pretty than ear shatteringly loud, it is clear that the ‘Sad are going to win these folks over.
James Graham’s vocals are affecting to say the least, purveying a combination of frustration and pure passion which is utterly captivating. Graham has an understated energy which is very similar to that of Matt Berninger of The National, taut force projected onto a slight frame to incredible effect. Combined with Andy MacFarlane’s Van Dyke Parks meets Spector guitars, The Twilight Sad’s live show is awesome, with the emphasis very much on the awe. They were only the support act here too, but given the way they held the room 2008 will see the band build on their critical success of last year.
Tracyanne Campbell is at the complete opposite end of the Celtic vocal range. Instead of pained emotion we are greeted with Camera Obscura’s summery breeze, up-beat and pretty to the last. Campbell is suffering from a sore throat, not that it shows on all but the highest notes.
What does show through is the fact that Camera Obscura are actually a terribly underrated band, who should be playing gigs of this size to thousands rather than the pitiful crowd at Jabez Clegg last time they hit this city. The problem is that most people know of the band, usually via "that Hey Lloyd song", rather than seeing them as a collection of great musicians with wonderfully crafted songs. Eighties Fan and Razzle Dazzle Rose are brilliant example of how to put together an entertaining and enjoyable slice of whimsy, whilst new track The Sweetest Thing (nothing to do with Bono’s lot) has tinges of Scandinavian pop to it which can only be a good thing.
Following a false start to Country Mile, what shines through is that this is a band who are very proud of what they are doing, and going about it in an utterly charming manner. However, the inevitable highlight for most is the aforementioned Lloyd I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken, which is accompanied by the twinkling lights of (reputably) Europe’s largest discoball. Which kind of fits. A band who are quietly producing amazing music show play out their ‘biggest hit’ whilst the crowd are enjoying a twinkly jig. Unassuming and beautiful.
words: Dan Feeney