@ Newcastle O2 Academy, May 3 2011

They boast a management deal with the folk who mastermind the careers of Iron Maiden, Bullet For My Valentine and You Me At Six. They command full page cover adverts on the back of Kerrang! magazine. And in charismatic frontman Sam McTrusty they possess a striking presence who wouldn’t look out of place sporting a Premier League football kit.

But what about the music? This month is a chance for Twin Atlantic to prove, once and for all, that they both live up to the hype and justify the time and money invested in their long-admired potential. 

An initially indifferent Newcastle crowd ensured this was going to be no easy ride for the lauded Glaswegians just 24 hours after debut long player Free hit record stores on both sides of the Atlantic. But in McTrusty the band benefit from a singer who loves a challenge – his expert delivery, boundless energy and endearing on-stage banter swiftly won over the doubters.

Kicking off with the title track from their new record, Twin Atlantic went on to belt out a brilliant version of Lightspeed which remains the best showcase of the Scots rockers to date. Its mix of Biffyism, boyish charm and chugging riffs make the song perfect for the current indie rock scene and it’s a tune guaranteed to delight readers of Kerrang! and NME in equal measure.

Watching Twin Atlantic live it’s clear that producer Gil Norton hasn’t done the sonically ambitious quartet any favours on Free. Listen to the band belting out their latest compositions on record and it’s like listening to The Proclaimers playing Guitar Hero. On stage it’s a different, more destructive story with bass player/keyboardist Craig Kneale coming out of his shell to steal the show and McTrusty playing rhythm guitar like his life depended on every last angular chord.

If the decision to hire Norton could backfire then it’s unlikely Twin Atlantic ever wanted to be judged on anything less than their exuberant live show. In the music world that is 2011 it’s all about cutting it for real and Free is simply another marketing tool to persuade the punters to access this band in their element.

It would be wrong to suggest Twin Atlantic enter the comfort zone the moment they step onto stage. There’s no hint of complacency, laziness or believing the hype. However, the fantastic foursome look so at home and so relaxed in front of a handful of fist-pumping fans that you half expect them to roll out the sleeping bags, stick on the kettle and settle down for the night at the end of a set as invigorating as it was intimate.

Twin Atlantic are the reluctant carriers of weighty expectations right now and that can affect even the most confident of bands. But with the mighty McTrusty at the helm it shouldn’t be a problem and it’s quite clear why those in the know are tipping this lot to become bigger and better throughout 2011.

Simon Rushworth