Sometimes a band gets a show off to a rough start simply because they've had an off day, or a missed note snowballs to become something a little worse. But sometimes that rough start is a harbinger of what's to come from the rest of the performance.
Monday night's Twin Shadow show at First Avenue proved to be firmly in the latter camp, unfortunately. While there were a few bright spots luminous enough to keep the show from going down in flames, overall, the set was lifeless and at points so meandering that it was difficult to discern what was going on.
Beginning the 70-minute set with the aforementioned stumble-filled "Five Seconds," from 2012's breakthrough, Confess, the set got off to a rocky start, the accompanying light show proving far more engaging than anything that was happening musically. "Old Love/New Love" from their 2010 debut, Forget, picked up the pieces a bit, though they next offered a version of "Castles in the Snow," that was dead on arrival and the show was beginning to resemble an aborted airplane takeoff.
"I'm Ready" from the just-released Eclipse, started to get the set looking healthy again and was one of the night's bright spots. The song is steeped in Peter Gabriel-esque off-kilter pop and is one of the album's standout tracks. The title track to the new album didn't fare as well, however, being far outdone by the light show, a theme that would recur throughout the night."Golden Light" and "Turn Me Up" followed in quick succession (the only passage during the set that unfolded with any sort of urgency), but also illustrated another problem with the set (and the general direction of the band of late): While Twin Shadow has always worn it's Peter Gabriel influence like a badge of honor, much of the new material is more in the "Solsbury Hill" vein than, say, "Shock the Monkey." It makes for OK listening, but none of it is as interesting as it could be.
"Flatliners," however, was easily the night's high point. The song has a slow, heartbeat-esque build, and, in a different set on a different night, the song has the power to push a great performance into transcendence. Monday, however, it did its job in simply keeping the set afloat.
As the show neared the end, the band proved that they still had a little bit left in the tank. "Run My Heart" gave way to a legitimately grand rendition of Sade's "Ordinary Love" and ended with a version of "To the Top" that would have been a great opening song to the set, as well.
The encore was a by-the-numbers rendition of "Slow" that brought about the thought that this band was headed in a pretty great direction just a few scant years ago and now, overall, they seem like the soundtrack to a slightly edgy romantic comedy. It's not a terrible position to be in, but it's also not terribly interesting. When your light show far outshines anything offered musically from the stage, it's possibly time to reassess just what you're trying to accomplish and what you're trying to say.
Critic's Bias: I loved Twin Shadow's first two records but have been lukewarm towards the new one. Monday's show did nothing to change my mind about that despite my hope that it would.
The Crowd: Sparse and reserved. The show was maybe half-full and it being a Monday, there seemed to be a collective "Let's see this and then get home so we can go to bed" vibe amongst the show-goers.
Overheard in the Crowd: "Ok, that's enough. I'm going over to the Depot, I'll see you guys after the show."
Notebook Dump: "Flatliners" is the only song I feel like they really believed in tonight--too bad it was near the end of the set.
Old Love/New Love
Castles in the Snow
Turn Me Up
Run My Heart/No Ordinary Love (Sade cover)
To the Top
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