LIVE: Twin Atlantic @ St. John’s Church, Kingston

By Yasmin Brown

With the release of every new record, it’s become something of a tradition for Twin Atlantic to jump on a short UK tour to further promote their new music. What’s also become tradition is for these shows to be in unusual settings, far removed from the usual club venues we’re used to from the band. These venues seem to mean that anything goes and you can always expect the unexpected – in the best way. While ‘Transparency’ has now been out for a couple of months, duo Twin Atlantic couldn’t let this tradition pass them by and we’re anything but disappointed with the result of this perseverance. 

Tonight’s setting is the beautiful St John’s Church in Kingston. Chairs are laid out formulaically in front of the altar and attendees file in, delighted at having just purchased their £3 beers and £4 glasses of prosecco. 

The lights dim and the now two-piece made up of Sam McTrusty and Ross McNae appear from behind a red curtain, taking their seats in front of the crowd rather sheepishly. As it transpires, McTrusty required a pep talk due to nerves but the atmosphere remains light, regardless. Part acoustic set, part stand up comedy gig, McTrusty and McNae bounce off each other like a ping pong ball, the audience lapping up every sassy and sarcastic exchange that occurs between song requests for tonight’s predominantly setlist-less show. 

The gentle chaos ensues after the first three songs – these are well planned and executed seamlessly – when the audience is given the opportunity to choose what comes next, allowing the pair to, by their own admission, embarrass themselves given they barely know how to play any of their own songs acoustically. It’s this, however, that makes tonight so special and so endearing. McNae and McTrusty regularly glance at each other in support, looking for cues from the other in this “intimidating” setting, before launching into whatever suggestion they agree they could feasibly attempt. 

Ever fighting against sound setups that leave much to be desired, tonight’s venue allows McTrusty’s vocals to shine easily, as the church acoustics elevate his Scottish tones, adding a new light to our favourite songs. While there are many rebuttals to the slightly shy song suggestions, this unorthodox approach does lead to some long forgotten gems appearing on the setlist. From ‘GLA’s’ ‘Mothertongue’ and ‘A Scar to Hide’, to 2014’s ‘Why Won’t We Change’ (or one verse and a chorus of it, at least), this is an evening for the die hard Twin fans and from the grins that sit on the faces of those in attendance, it’s clear there are many here tonight. 

While there are plenty of rare songs to be found here this evening, it wouldn’t be a Twin gig without the fan favourites such as ‘Oceans’, ‘Crash Land’ and, the band’s perpetual set closer, ‘Heart and Soul’, all of which somehow maintain the same level of energy as they do during a full band set, albeit a different kind of energy. With ‘Time For You To Stand Up’ thrown in for good measure, acting as a warm up to the band’s ‘Free’ 10-year anniversary tour in May (“Ross specifically asked me not to play this song which is why we’re playing it”), this event feels all but perfect. This intimate approach acts as a way of bringing fans even closer to two already wildly personable musicians, and gives us an opportunity to see them in a less polished, more human way.

It may have been a delightful shambles from start to finish but tonight’s event has been one for the books – a unique way for us to see our favourite band and one we’ll likely never forget.