@ Durham Live Lounge, January 22 2011

Twin Atlantic have been back in England touring as headliners on what is known as their ‘intimate club tour’.

But their Live Lounge gig didn’t seem quite so intimate as the band added Durham to their itinerary and they seemed slightly apprehensive to be playing a larger than expected venue.

On reflection any nerves were understandable given the fact they hadn’t been in headliner mode for a while. Fortunately the turnout was decent and although the floor wasn’t filled with bodies, a positive vibe underpinned an expectant audience.

Local band Laconia were first on the bill and their return to home soil, following some serious magazine backing and big name support slots, was hotly anticipated. The band played a good set yet the members seemed indifferent to being there – not at their best by some way and such a shame for the locals.

The vibe took a 180 degree turn as Stagecoach kicked off their entertainment with a cacophony of sounds from the vocalist and what looked like a mandolin player. At first the majority of the crowd didn’t appear to know how to receive the Surrey quintet but their later songs were taken in good spirit and the set became better and better. They definitely brought something different to the mix: quirky frontmen, raging enthusiasm, energy and the mandolin player…when he climbed onto the PA and into the crowd, before handing a shy lad his instrument to finish off the song, the entertainment level reached a suitable crescendo.

The long awaited Glasgow-bred Twin Atlantic took to the stage tentatively but any apprehension didn’t last. The band seemed genuinely comfortable playing to a modest crowd after supporting big acts like Smashing Pumpkins and Biffy Clyro and lead vocalist Sam McTrusty mentioned seeing friendly faces in the crowd with a genuine smile on his face.

The set was like a breath of fresh air, with authentic vocals rather than a shameful American or faux-Cockney accent and guitarist Barry McKenna’s switch between guitar and electric cello on a couple of songs brought about a contemporary and imaginative use of a generically classical instrument.

Although Twin Atlantic are a quartet, they held the presence of a bigger band on stage as drummer Craig Kneale was absolutely solid and flawless in his playing, Ross McKnae switched between guitar and keyboard fittingly and McTrusty’s vibrant stage presence plus McKenna’s guitar licks and cello fuelled their songs with life.

All in all the band made a mark on the North East and will undoubtedly progress towards bigger and better things in the very near future. Watch this space.

Chiara Giordano