* * * *
by Margaret Chrystall
ANY doubts TWIN ATLANTIC have made a great leap forward with new album The Great Divide were drowned out on Tuesday by the deafening roar of Ironworks’ final singalong to Heart And Soul.
As the new album’s signature flags were raised as a backdrop and the sound of a lone trumpet effect seemed scarily like a last post, the Glasgow band were giving everything to one of the earliest gigs in the new tour.
That song was the first single released from the not-yet-out new album – out officially on Monday.
But the packed-in crowd was already word perfect and screamingly up for it when Heart And Soul turned up as the final song of the night.
By that time, the band had worked through most of the songs from 2011’s album Free, a few from first mini-album Vivarium, plus a select handful from the new one. And the Ironworks crowd was eating out of the palm of singer Sam McTrusty’s hand.
But the love-in seemed decidedly mutual.
"It’s been an absolute pleasure, Inverness!" said Sam as the band left the stage after the long set and meaty four-song strong encore.
Earlier, eight songs in, Sam had confided in the crowd: "Before we came on, we realised ... this is our sixth time here!"
And almost miraculously, a big purple 6-shaped balloon appeared on stage to float there as a reminder of just how long Twin Atlantic have been wooing the Inverness crowd.
Main set closer Time For You To Stand Up was another chance to test the crowd, getting everyone to sit down before bouncing up on cue. It was also a little reminder for those who were asked to sit to let the band’s first popular and packed-out Belladrum tent set continue.
"I’ve been looking forward to this one since we announced these shows," Sam had said of the Ironworks gig just before that song started.
"For us we love coming here, it’s a home from home – and everyone is so kind at this venue!"
And he was still feeling generous – though maybe a little bit embarrassed about his warm words – when the band returned for the start of their encore mini-set.
"I think I might have got a little bit too excited before, but we genuinely love coming up to play here. It’s great to be from Glasgow and get to come this far North and to be accepted by everyone here.
"This one is for anyone who travelled tonight," said Sam, starting off Crash Land.
It was a great contrast from the full-on guitar and drum thrash of the set’s beginning. Here, guitarist Barry swapped onto his electric cello for a gorgeously rich change in sound texture.
Earlier before Edit Me, a visual beautiful moment had been inspired by Free when Sam got the crowd to light up their phone screens like fireflies in the dark.
"I know it’s cheesy, but see how f***ing cool it looks!" he grinned.
And with most of the night’s music out of the way, Sam was clearly getting the chance to take a more careful look at the audience.
"There are guys in the middle there singing as if their lives depended on it."
Maybe that’s just as true of Twin Atlantic, poised to reboot their careers with a new album that could set the agenda for the next few years.
With Brothers And Sisters plus Heart And Soul – undoubtedly the biggest and best of the Great Divide songs in the set – it looks as if McTrusty and Co should be heading back to the delights of California’s Topanga Canyon studio next time around.
That’s where one of the album’s producers – Jacknife Lee – helped create the bounding energy and melody that explodes out of these two songs.
On Tuesday, with 17 songs behind them and just one to go, a smiley Sam even sketched out a rosy-tinted future hope.
"Thanks for coming. Hopefully you’ll be here for our next record – and we’ll come back!"