On the cusp of releasing their eighth studio album, the finest band to ever emerge from Texas (fact!), And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (let’s just call them Trail of Dead, from here, hmmm?) are practically a heritage act by now, but in the face of stiff competition – Errors at the Electric Circus and the fifth anniversary of local promotions behemoth Limbo – their ability to pull in a sizeable crowd is still impressive.
Like most of the audience, Tidal Wave is a scruffy 30-something, suggesting that while recent albums with middling reviews haven’t won them many new fans, the original batch of Trail of Dead-ers are a loyal bunch and many of tonight’s audience probably saw their near legendary 2000 Mogwai support slot in this very room and their chaotic headline performance mere months later, a show that finished with co-frontman Jason Reece swinging from the lighting rig.
That was one of our first ever gigs in Edinburgh, and tonight it feels like we’re back where we started, not least because the album being toured at the time – 1999′s Madonna – features heavily once again.
First up however, are Leicester’s Maybeshewill – clear Trail of Dead fans themselves. Nominal frontman John Helps is sporting the latest t-shirt and he and drummer James Collins are spotted in the moshpit later on. They couldn’t be more different however; Maybeshewill, despite the iffy emo name, play a ferocious brand of post rock, arguably even post metal, that’s more closely aligned with Isis or Pelican than Trail of Dead’s punk prog.
It’s deafening. The guitar sound is utterly crushing and drowns out the electronics, meant to be the band’s motif, and even the drums. That’s not to say it’s anything other than a blistering performance that leaves our ears struggling to recover for the headliners.
Would You Smile Again For Me’s stop/start thrash opens it all up before the more measured Worlds Apart apart provides the calm before the Mistakes and Regrets-shaped storm. The first single from Madonna effectively broke them in this country and Conrad Keely’s harks back to the aforementioned Mogwai show before ripping into another oldie.
They’re in cracking form and a the two numbers from upcoming album Lost Songs keep up the momentum. Stripped back to their scowling roots, they’re raw and powerful and the signs for the new record are good. This is Trail of Dead though, and meandering, squalling codas are a speciality – the new numbers are not exempt.
The off the rails rage of A Perfect Teenhood and Homage batter the crowd into submission before Totally Natural’s rough jam brings the evening to a close. More than fifteen years into their career, Trail of Dead still have an appetite for chaos and anger. Heritage band they may be, but they’ve lost none of their power and are welcome back to the Liquid Room any time they want.