Twin Shadow. Live at The Deaf Institute. Manchester. 26/01/2011

Review by Andy Oskwarek

George Lewis Jr (AKA Twin Shadow) has star quality in abundance. He steps on stage looking every inch the pop star, with a rock ‘n’ roll bouffant which must be a contender for the best hair in music at the moment. From this point on it’s difficult to take your eyes off him.  

Set opener ‘Shooting Holes’ starts the show on a blistering note, and concludes with an exhilarating guitar solo, which allows Lewis Jr to show both his skills as a guitarist and his magnetic stage presence. Album opener ‘Tyrant Destroyed’ quickly follows, and perfectly illustrates how expressive Lewis Jr’s voice can be. It’s clear that he has great belief both in himself and his music. 

Last year’s début album ‘Forget’ is essentially a solo album, with Lewis Jr playing guitar and backed by a selection of synth sounds and a drum machine, and utilising clever production to provide an often ghostly and dreamlike quality, and help breathe life into the songs. 

Tonight Twin Shadow are set up as a four piece, with a keyboardist, bassist and drummer given the responsibility of helping translate Lewis Jrs compositions for a live setting.  

For the most part they do this by speeding things up a notch or two, and giving the songs a slightly rockier edge. As a result some of the layers and intricacies that are present on the album are lost, but it’s a testament to the strength of the songs and the enthusiasm with which they are delivered that they are still just as poignant and enjoyable. 

The one notable exception is early single ‘Slow,’ which is one of the highlights on record. The speeded up live version whizzes by fairly ineffectively, and the vocal seems lacklustre and hollow, but this remains a small gripe in an otherwise excellent set. 

Outside the world of mainstream pop music there is generally less emphasis on charm, charisma and star quality. The focus is rightly placed on songwriting, talent and the quality of the music. Twin Shadow show tonight what happens when you manage to combine all of these things, and that makes them a very exciting prospect indeed.

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