LIVE: Twin Atlantic @ Rough Trade East, London

By Yasmin Brown

There’s something very strange about attending a full band rock show in a record store. As British customers, we’re used to politely shopping in such places, ensuring we’re not getting in anyone else’s way as we browse through the alphabet in search of our new favourite album. As a result, when standing in front of a stage in this usually quiet environment, it feels unnatural and somewhat awkward.

The awkwardness is tangible as Twin Atlantic take to the stage – a contrast to the previous night’s more raucous show at PRYZM in Kingston – but rather than leave it to fester unaddressed, front man Sam McTrusty tackles this discomfort head on. For the first three songs of the early evening’s performance – brand new tracks ‘Oh! Euphoria’, ‘Novocaine’, and ‘No Sleep’ – McTrusty affectionately taunts the crowd for their lack of energy, commanding everyone to “shut the fuck up” as they stand there all but stationary and silent. But as our surroundings become less alien, and Twin Atlantic refuse to allow the meagre response stunt their performance, the energy picks up ten fold, much to McTrusty’s delight (“Oh you do have a soul!”). 

Tonight we’re celebrating the release of the band’s latest album, ‘POWER’, and due to the songs having been unleashed on the world less than 12 hours earlier, it makes sense that it’s the older songs that garner the best reaction. When the band launches into 2011’s ‘Make a Beast of Myself’, it starts to feel more like a club show as the heat rises, layers of clothing are removed both on stage and on the floor, and McTrusty stays hydrated by sipping on a Rough Trade branded cup of tea.

This new found enthusiasm is maintained for the rest of the show, and it now resonates even harder with the band, whose performance steps up further as a result. After making an appearance at a handful of summer festivals in 2019, tonight’s performance of new track ‘Volcano’ receives the warmest of welcomes, with the crowd jumping along obediently to the actionable lyric ‘lift my feet off the ground’. This catchy tune was made for the live show, and the unanimous joy that spreads across the band’s faces as they play is just one of the reasons it’s a highlight of the night.

Still on a high, the band launches into old time favourite, ‘Yes, I Was Drunk’ – a track that continues to be met with unadulterated excitement, even 9 years after its release – before ‘Brothers and Sisters’ takes centre stage. The anthemic track from the band’s third studio album, ‘Great Divide’, is another track that ages like a fine wine, and its performance is as heartfelt and earnest as it was upon its release in 2014. The response prompts McTrusty to humbly thank the crowd for turning up and for supporting Twin Atlantic during such an important time, his words still ringing in our ears as we’re treated to another new dance number. 

‘Barcelona’ was made to get you on your feet, and tonight this Rough Trade crowd happily obliges as they sing along to every word as if seared into their minds. It’s clearly unanimously considered a favourite off the new record and it’s only as it ends and McTrusty announces that the next song will be the last that the excitement lulls just a little and disappointment takes its place. 

It’s this knowledge, however, that likely ensures that whatever energy the crowd has left (or at least what energy they’re willing to exude in this peculiar store setting) is thrown into this final performance of the band’s biggest track to date – ‘Heart and Soul’. Exaggerated Scottish accents scream along as fans make the most of these last few minutes, and Twin themselves use it as an opportunity to show off their talent with an explosive extended outro as they bring the evening to a close.

Tonight has proven that Twin Atlantic are a band that can take any live environment, however unusual, and turn it into an outright success. Their talent, when combined with charisma, good humour and relentless determination, makes them a real force to be reckoned with. If tonight is anything to go by, POWER is set to lead them towards even greater heights.