LIVE: Twin Atlantic @ The Roundhouse, London

By Yasmin Brown

It’s a glorious Sunday evening in London and excitement reverberates off of every surface as fans file off the streets of Camden and into The Roundhouse ahead of the evening’s main event – Twin Atlantic.

It’s an important night – one we’ve been anticipating for longer than we care to recall, not just for Twin Atlantic’s London fans but for the band members, too, as we come together in celebration of the band’s much revered album, ‘Free’. Released over a decade ago in 2011, it’s an album that changed the band’s trajectory forever and one which even now, 11 years later, is still admired and adored by anyone who has ever loved this Glaswegian outfit.

The stage is dressed with the album’s instantly recognisable album art wherein each track is depicted by a symbol, all of which are now displayed on a sheet at the back of the stage, only adding to the enthusiasm that’s already building up as it acts as a stark reminder of exactly why we’re here. The lights dim and the band takes to the stage with front man Sam McTrusty leading the force (notably missing is ex-drummer Craig Kneale following his departure from the band back in January) for what is pretty much guaranteed to be a night to remember.

Playing the now iconic album front to back without a single word uttered between songs – uncharacteristic of the usually very chatty McTrusty –  Twin Atlantic have the audience captivated as we relive the last 10 years of our life, reminiscing on all the experiences for which this record has been a soundtrack. From front to back, fans scream along to every word emphatically and desperately with the knowledge that we may never hear some of these in a live environment again. As you look around the room, it’s hard to pinpoint any particular favourite, as the excitement infiltrates every moment and this very London crowd scream along in their makeshift Scottish accents without an ounce of shame, each with their own personal reasons for loving this album. The enjoyment is only elevated by the fact that the band plays each song with as much ease as they do energy, greeting the riffs, beats and lyrics like old friends, the heavy nostalgia paradoxically paired with a feeling that these songs are shiny and new and just as exciting to play as they were following the album’s release. 

While some moments allow tonight’s audience to entirely lose our minds – the likes of the raucous ‘Ghost of Eddie’, and perfect singalong moments such as ‘Eight Days’ and ‘Dreamember’ as just a couple of examples – it’s when things slowed down that the reality of this evening really sinks in. We’re all over a decade older than we were when we first fell in love with ‘Free’ and as you look around, you can see each person’s mind floating with their own stories – their own memories in relation to these songs. Venue-wide, tears stream down faces and arms wrap around loved ones as (now) touring member Barry McKenna switches out his bass for the cello for a glorious performance of fan favourite, ‘Crash Land’ and the wildly underrated ‘Wonder Sleeps Here’ sees a similarly emotional response as every delicate word is mirrored back at the stage without a second thought. 

The first part of the set closes out perfectly with the politically charged ‘We Want Better, Man’, leaving us breathless, as well as both satisfied and sad as the band leave the stage ahead of amping things up again with a more eclectic part of the show. The ‘Free’ backdrop is pulled away, leaving a screen at the back of the stage that lights up as the band return. The atmosphere immediately changes and the party we’ve been promised kicks in as the first notes of 2015’s ‘No Sleep’ are played. 

This second half sees McTrusty back in his element as he comments on how hard it’s been to not chat as they played through ‘Free’ without a break – something that anyone who’s seen this band before will know he’s not used to. Here, the show gets more interactive as McTrusty launches himself around, throwing himself into the crowd during 2020’s ‘Novocaine’ and ensuring we all leave tonight with a glow on our faces and a sheen on our skin. With performances from all subsequent albums, McTrusty admits that aside from their hometown shows in Glasgow, this will be the longest set of the tour, sharing with us that London is like a second home and making us feel very special indeed. 

From perfect dance numbers such as ‘Barcelona’, ‘One Man Party’ and ‘Bang On the Gong’, to old favourites like ‘The Chaser’ and – of course – the perpetual set closer ‘Heart and Soul’, there’s something for everyone and you can’t help but let the cheesiest of grins spread across your face even as the show draws to its close and you head back out into the real world once more. For all Twin Atlantic fans, old and new, this Sunday evening has just become one we’ll remember for years to come.