Twin Atlantic – Powerpop Pride of the Scottish Highlands

If there is a musical “pride of the Scottish Highlands,” these guys would be in the running without a doubt. Twin Atlantic formed in 2007 with four fellows from four separate bands. Comprised of Sam McTrusty (on guitar/lead vocals), Barry McKenna (guitar, backup vocals, cello), Ross McNae (bass, piano and backup vocals) and Craig Kneale (drums), TA soars in the genres of alternative rock and powerpop.

Beginning in Glasgow, Scotland, the foursome toured with progressive rock’s Circa Survive and the multi-genre band Mewithoutyou in a supporting spot throughout 2007. The year culminated in the recording of Twin Atlantic’s first EP, “A Guidance From Colour.” Producing the EP was Romesh Dodangoda of Long Wave Studios. The EP included four tracks:
1) Audience and Audio,
2) I Cave In,
3) Time Is The Enemy, and
4) {title track} A Guidance From Colour.

Under the skilled hands of Dodangoda, Twin Atlantic ultimately released “Audience and Audio” on Christmas Eve 2007, followed by their EP’s release in January ’08. The rock magazine Kerrang! helped boost TA’s band profile and they were awarded a local touring position supporting Biffy Clyro, a band of fellow Scots.

Later that same year, Smashing Pumpkins drummer extraordinaire Jimmy Chamberlin chose Twin Atlantic as a supporting act. This led to other supporting spots with the likes of Funeral For a Friend, LostProphets and Finch, among others. The summer of ’08 took TA on a whirlwind tour of festivals all over Scotland.

King Tut’s Recordings signed Twin Atlantic and released a single “What is Light? Where is Laughter” in September ’08. The single’s B-side was a live acoustic version of “I Cave In” from the BBC T in the park festival. This was supported by a tour of Scotland with the Xcerts followed by the band’s first EVER headline tour of the United Kingdom.

The band relies on social networking and electronic downloads to release it’s music as it helps keep costs down. It also effectively expands their fan base to a global basis. But all that might change very soon for Twin Atlantic. In early ’09, TA signed a contract with Red Bull Records and is reportedly heading to the studio.

Recent news releases put the band in Los Angeles with mega-producer John Travis to record a mini-album. Travis has worked with several major music acts like Static-X, Monster Magnet and the critically acclaimed Kid Rock. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see an appearance on Twin Atlantic’s debut by a major name in music.

Although there has not been a formal album released yet, it is coming soon. Twin Atlantic has more than enough material to record a full length CD. New material that has been played only at live performances will no doubt see their way onto the album. These tracks include Atlas Factory, Crash Land, Wonder Sleeps Here and Lights Out among others.

You’ll just have to wait for the album to hear the other titles!

The band has also covered Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” and Crowded House’s “Fall At Your Feet.” One thing is certain: the new album will be available on CD as well as digital download. The Internet is a big distribution tool that TA’s management uses to the fullest. Be there at the moment the album is released to the public and you will have a piece of Scottish music history; the first ever Twin Atlantic full length CD/album!

Why TV Is So Boring

Let me begin by saying something that might sound totally fatuous to some people. Here goes. As times and circumstances change, so do various fields of human activity.

Wow, that’s deep. Good job, Ruggero.

Well, anyway, no matter how productive or lucrative a field was when it first hatched, when the conditions that brought it to life evolve or devolve, it must either adapt or vanish.

Abandoning the idea of the “philosopher’s stone” (a legendary substance supposedly capable of turning inexpensive metals into gold), alchemy blended itself into ordinary chemistry. Astrology separated itself as far as possible from astronomy when the latter, due mostly to the invention of the telescope, became thoroughly materialistic, discarding the spiritual aspect of the Universe’s structure as something it had no use for. And so forth. (The new “philosopher’s stone,” a.k.a. “alternative fuels,” is really a combination of two ideas: turning trash into energy and launching a perpetual motion machine (the kind that produces more energy than it uses, another dream inherited from medieval inventors). Ideas change their appearance, but hardly ever their essence).

Television as we know it (not the tube itself, but rather the broadcasting industry) dates back to the 1950’s, when the main purpose of advertising was to announce products rather than splice their brand names onto the human psyche. We have come a long way since then. Only a few products can be advertised in prime time today. Cars; pharmaceuticals (including dental products and shampoo, i.e. stuff you buy at the drugstore); junk food; new movies; cell phones, lawyer services; and insurance. Gone from your evening TV experience are department stores, appliances, coffee, music, and painting collections. Ah, the time when you could catch a commercial touting a huge sale on Manet or Sargent originals! Those were the days.
But I digress.

Even back in the 1950’s, some folks cynically suggested that television was an advertising medium, and that the actual programming served only to fill the gaps between commercials. That was not true back than; nor is it true today. The reason television performs fellatio is far more prosaic, alas.

The current model for TV broadcasting consists of two layers of pseudo-advertising, and nothing else. The first layer, i.e. the actual programming (shows, concerts, movies, news) serves to get the viewer’s attention. The second layer, the “commercials,” does not actually try to sell anything (in prime time, they run up to eight car ads an hour – how many cars can an average viewer possibly buy in the course of just one day, goodness – how often does he or she actually buy a car? Once in two or three or five years? At four hours of TV per day, and a brand-new car every three years (quite a stretch) – that comes out to 35,040 (thirty-five thousand and forty) car ads between purchases!). Rather, the “commercial” layer tries (successfully so, we must admit) to keep viewers’ minds in car-buying mode all the time.
The studios pay for the shows, and the advertisers pay the studios. The actual viewer is kept out of the loop.

This may be a wonderful (and witty) solution for providing free entertainment for the public, only there is no such thing as free lunch (case in point: the philosopher’s stone enterprise and perpetual motion research still have to yield any results). The studios have no choice but to bring the overall quality of the programming to the lowest common denominator in order to get as many folks as possible to watch TV. The model has no provision for the specialized interests of some viewers, niche programming, demographic-oriented programming. A show that could potentially attract fewer than a million viewers (roughly speaking) gets rejected more or less automatically.
Cable was expected to balance out the “dumb-down” factor by making the viewer pay actual money for the packages he or she purchased. The model used by cable television, however, differs but little from traditional TV. The viewer pays a ridiculously small monthly sum and is served a whole bunch of channels featuring shows that are not of the viewer’s choosing. The quality is only marginally better than that of the big networks. As an acquaintance of mine once put it, “There’s 500 channels and nothing to watch.”

The crux of the matter is that both models are essentially anti-free-enterprise and, in the final count, stubbornly and aggressively un-American. Which is a shame, of course, since modern technology can easily make television a truly wonderful source of quality entertainment for everyone, and not just the “masses.” Yes, there is a way to make TV perform fellatio less, and do some quality work for the good of the American people.

What I’m going to say now may sound nearly unthinkable, and even ridiculous, to some taxpayers and voters out there. It is nevertheless true.

Here goes. It is the Federal Government’s job to rescue television from the clutches of corporate-sponsored, watered-down socialism.

Remember that like land, air, and water, airtime belongs to the nation, and not just a few faceless corporate entities. Remember also that public space (and airtime certainly qualifies as public space) is subject to government regulation. No one should tell anyone how to run a business; and yet legitimate businesses are run in accordance with laws, and laws are made by the Legislative Branch.

False advertisement is an actionable offence, and yet this law is openly disdained by the current TV model. The networks claim they provide knowledge (the news and History Channel) and entertainment (everything else), while in reality they provide nothing apart from advertising. Our technologically advanced epoch, so different from the 1950’s, calls for a new Federal law that would effectively ban companies from generating income by selling anything other than their own product.

Clothing companies sell clothes; farmers sell produce; landlords sell living and office space. TV pretends to sell knowledge and entertainment to the viewer, whereas it really is in the business of selling public airtime to a handful of corporations.

To summarize.

TV performs fellatio because it is impossibly, insufferably, criminally boring.
TV is boring because the current model of television programming is not conducive to making entertaining broadcasts.

The current model is not conducive to making television entertaining because it is rooted in an epoch that from today’s point of view seems prehistoric; because that model was fallacious to begin with when it was first hatched; because it fails to take any advantage of the superlative, unprecedented technological means available today. Palm reading is more technologically advanced than television, for goodness’ sake.

Suppose you were a farmer, growing strawberries and spinach. Suddenly a middleman comes over to you to buy out, or even just claim, your field and crops, with the idea of turning it over to a corporation specializing in genetically modified corn. You have no say in the matter; as a consolation, you are allowed to visit the field for free any time you like.

But, you might ask, how would the networks make money if they weren’t allowed to air commercials?

Simple. The American way, that’s how. Create a product; announce it; hope and pray that someone would buy it; and charge for it when they do.

As a matter of fact, the model already exists, even though it could use a lot of improvement. It is called pay-per-view.
The way it looks, the only way to bring television up to date achieve this would be to ban all advertising from it, forever. Consider that cigarette commercials were banned because they endangered public health. All advertising on TV should be banned because advertising-sponsored “shows” are a hazard to the public psyche. The current model has had its day, and it is time to toss it into the dusty, malodorous pile of historical trash.

What would television be like, with advertising banned? Who knows. Some heavy-duty deregulation would probably be in order. Anti-trust laws (the latest signed by George W. Bush in 2002) would have to be applied to it. Limits would have to be set on how much public airtime a company can get – three hours? Four hours? And electronic tracking system (meters) would have to be installed (a TV set would become much like a cell phone, and simpler than the current pay-per-view format – get an account, pay for how much you watch, pay only for what you watch on a show by show basis; no bulk discounts). The revenues would then be electronically distributed among the appropriate providers of content.

Competition (real competition) would do the rest.

The debilitating, mind-numbing effect the current model has on the population would be eliminated forever. Remember your favorite show – sitcom, talk show, news, whatever – that you sometimes feel a bit guilty watching, thinking there must be better, more constructive ways of spending your time, and paying for the mildly stimulating, soft content with having to endure the boredom and annoyance of “commercial” interruptions. Imaging that instead of boredom and annoyance you had to use real money. No more ads. The show goes on, uninterrupted. How much would you pay for it – the one show you watch three or five times a week? Three dollars a pop? Five dollars? Five hours of TV a day, every day, would then amount to $168, or thereabouts, a week. No one in their right mind would pay that kind of money to just watch TV as we know it, or any kind of TV for that matter. Parents would instantly find a thousand infallible ways of keeping their children away from the tube. Strict TV budgeting would enforce itself in every household (with the exception of very wealthy households which, even today, are not sufficiently numerous to make any difference in the matter). The ratings (the real ratings, measured in actual dollars rather than fuzzy numbers extrapolated from flimsy telephonic polls) would start falling so fast and so hard that studios would have to start finding ways to improve their product dramatically in order to be able to stay in business. The precious three or four hours of TV a week would have to become worth the viewer’s while. (The studios would discover real quick that American audiences are by far not as dumb as everybody used to think).

So – no free TV of any kind?


What about PBS?

Look. Some kind of nominal fee would have to be paid by the viewer, even when the studio does not want to charge him – remember your cell phone?

All right, here’s a problem. Some big companies might definitely figure out a way to do some subtle product placement in exchange for “donations” or even “investment.” What do we do about that? That’s pretty simple, actually. That’s why we have the FCC.

Bars would be first to benefit from the change. They always do. Changes drive people to drink. Apart from that, some bars would probably enjoy a measure of success for a while. They would pay viewer’s fees, and their TV’s would stay on, and some folks who used to pop in once a month would now flock to them every night just to save on the television bill. They would come over to watch some TV. Or so they would think. Nobody ever watches TV in a bar, unless there is an important game on. Instead of watching, people would start socializing, and that’s a good thing. The old community concept would return.

Or, some folks could drop by each other’s places and chip in to watch – a game, maybe. Not a movie, though. The idea of broadcasting movies on TV is so obviously archaic, one can’t help but wonder why even the current model still includes flicks – what with the proliferation of DVD’s and downloadable movie files.

Now suppose you’re the chief executive of one of the TV studios. The electronic meters are installed in every TV-owning household; the new law is in effect as of today. You’re in charge – your salary and career depend on the success of your studio. What would you do?

First, you would probably have to call a conference. The two dozen most important studio men and women would sit around the long polished table and talk. After about an hour, you would fire every person who has been guilty of saying, “I don’t know what we’re going to do now. I have no idea where this is going, it’s just is terrible.” Oldtimers cannot adapt. It has nothing to do with their age – some oldtimers are barely in their twenties. They should only be kept on when no decisions, creative or otherwise, have to be made anymore. You would only need decisive people around you.

Some would jokingly suggest that if the studio were to go on, it would have to look seriously into porn. Fire those too. You don’t need folks who make bad jokes, and the joke is certainly a bad one. TV is not meant for porn. DVD players and the Web are meant for porn. Everybody knows that.

You’d ask around, you’d rack your brains for days, and then a moment would come when someone, some hitherto unknown and unnoticed entity, suddenly comes up to you, saying that the one unique feature television has is the live broadcast. DVD players and the Internet manage pre-recorded shows a lot better than television.

That would be your edge. The live broadcast.

Sports – that’s a no-brainer. “Here we are live in Phoenix, and the game is just about to begin, folks.” What else? News? News go live only in emergencies; otherwise, the Web is far better equipped than TV to deliver news.

What is the one thing out there that is very much like sports and yet not like it at all? What has live action that loses a measure of its value when you only get to watch a recording? Live theatre. Of course. If Hollywood can get millions of people to stand on lines eagerly, hoping to catch that new release, so can theatre.

Live broadcasts. That’s the key. Nothing taped, or edited. Real actors performing real shows. Viewers watching and rooting for them, or against them (“She was great tonight, even though she mixed up some of the lines.” “They should get rid of that moron, he’s no actor.” “That theatre should start getting better plays. The actors are too talented to perform the crap I saw last night.” Repertory theatres, performing four or five different shows a week, and no performance is like the previous one – what a great idea!

You would need to find a lot of good theatrical performances, though – and besides, since we’re talking about live broadcasts, theatres do not perform in the morning, do they?

That depends. Morning in New York is show time in Sydney. Scouts would have to go on the road, following leads, seeking out sensational shows in all kinds of theatres, from historically famous to downright obscure – in order to earn their bread. Theatrical companies would have to clean up their act and start looking for good plays instead of subsidies. “Broadcasting live from Bradley’s Playhouse in Austin, Texas!” “A new sensational play by such-and-such, and we’re live in Pierre, South Dakota!” “Chicago’s New Plush Globe presents this striking new production of an old classic!” “Live this Friday night in Glasgow!”

And so forth.

Studios would have to get used to the idea that very few shows can get them millions of viewers. A boxing match or, for now, a star performer’s solo concert – that’s about it. Apart from those, only free television can get a hundred thousand or more people to watch a program at the same time – because it’s free. Truly commercial television would not be able to do that. Ten thousand viewers per show would have to be considered a success.

Ten thousand? At five or six dollars each? What about the expenses? All that equipment, all those crews? That costs money! Fifty or sixty grand – that’s no budget at all.

Yes, it is. There is no reason why, with today’s technologies, the size of a studio crew (including the scouts looking for broadcast material) should exceed twenty souls. If the kind of equipment that would make this possible does not yet exist, then it’s time someone designed it. Some ten-year-olds out there broadcast from their homes, through the Web, to the entire world these days, for goodness’ sake.

But what about all those television employees, the crews of today’s studios, the executives, the marketing departments, and on and on? They would have to find other jobs, or perform fellatio.

What about all the equipment and infrastructure already in place? It would have to be scrapped. LP’s and 8-tracks were, and no one even noticed.

“Hey, did you catch that play from that Kansas theatre last night? Everybody’s talking about it, you know.”

“No, I missed it.”

“I’ve got a recording. You want it?”

“It’s not the same. Aw, all right. Thanks.”

What about the handful of corporations who can still afford to advertise on TV today? They would have to re-introduce themselves to the idea of free enterprise, which is to say they would have to learn how to compete by making their products better than their rivals’, that’s all: no more television hypnosis, no more substituting colorful mesmerizing ads for hard work and invention. Go ahead and compete. That’s the American way, fellow. Either that, or perform fellatio.

Suppose a day came when, despite the scouts’ efforts, nothing half-way good could be found to fill in the time slot? What then?

Fall back on sports.

Not enough games!

Oh, come on. That’s nonsense. Of course it would be idiotic to show Lithuanian basketball or Cuban baseball in these United States, but what about English, German, Italian and Brazilian soccer? Russian hockey?

I can hear someone, some burly man with a beer belly, saying, “We have our own culture, and Italian soccer isn’t part of it. And there aren’t enough theatres in the country to fill an entire day of TV programming.”

True, but that’s because a very large part of our cultural repository is currently clogged with free or semi-free (i.e. subsidized, a.k.a. Socialist) television. As soon as the trash is squared away, this nation’s capacity for genuine culture just might surprise the rest of the world. And there would be new theatre companies springing up around the country every week, competing for the scouts’ attention.

Twin Atlantic – High Octane Emo – Power-Pop Rock Show

The boys from Glasgow are ready to rumble…rumble up on the stage and then deliver a fierce, amplified hue and cry. Yes, Twin Atlantic puts on a high octane emo/power-pop rock show. They even bring a cello into the mix for their (thus far) only EP’s title track, “A Guidance from Colour.” In addition to their January, 2008 EP, the power pop rockers have released two singles (“Audience and Audio” for digital download only in December of 2007 and “What is Light? Where is Laughter” in September of 2008). They also perform another ten original songs in their live set list, while doing a couple of covers: Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (just imagine that one comin’ at ya through crystalline-distorted guitars, jagged percussion, and snarled, Scots-accented male vocals), and Crowded House’s house classic “Fall At Your Feet.”

Twin Atlantic are Sam McTrusty on lead vocals and guitar; Barry McKenna on guitar, cello, and vocals; Ross McNae on bass, piano, & vocals; and Craig Kneale on drums and vocals. McTrusty has this thing where he loves to hurl himself into the audience a la the Seattle alternative hard rock scene circa 1992, except he takes guitar with him and plays on his back while being hoisted aloft by surprised audience members. (Talk about trusting–bad pun intended.) Some guys do magic tricks in bars to pick up chicks; McTrusty just throws himself and his guitar right at them. But it might make everyone else a bit nervous.

The band is high voltage rock ‘n’ roll from first to last. The use of the cello on “A Guidance from Colour” also shows that they know how to flesh out a song and add color, indeed, that so many who play in this copy cat prone rock genre would never think of. Many of use are looking forward to more studio work from these guys so we can see if more cello and piano get used on more songs. But as emo as they are, Twin Atlantic have a decided sense of melody that cuts through all the noise and further sets them apart from their one-trick-pony peers, as does McTrusty’s blatant Scots brogue that contrasts with the usual fake-bluegrass-in-the-wrong-setting falsetto fare. You don’t need to be into the genre to like these guys, rock out, and want to hear them again. This bodes well for these UK lads–they can get a rock audience that expands far beyond the cloistered emo boundaries.

As in the better, vanished days of old for rock music (which may be coming back now–stay tuned), Twin Atlantic are a band that can build a wider audience through live performances, too. They’re energy and wild professionalism on stage will see to that. Hey! Get these mates back into the studio!

Backbeat: The Birth of the Beatles Musical Review

‘BACKBEAT: The Birth of The Beatles’

We live in a very unique time. Pop culture is such a big part of our everyday existence that we are able to watch a rare breed of genius rise and zenith in real time. It’s hard to imagine being there when Bach or Beethoven performed their most celebrated Sonatas and Symphonies for the first. It is so long ago that their stories and their music seem like stuff of myth – we don’t even have recordings… just modern interpretations from the sheet music they left behind.

The Beatles, on the other hand, are still casting long shadows in a world where so many living people saw them, heard them, and met them as that history was being made. The planet has lost entire forests for the printing of books that have told their story. And it’s the same story – over and over and over again with the occasional nuggets of new information. Every aspect of their lives has been scrutinized, analyzed and rationalized. But the majority of those stories begin with band’s drummer Pete Best getting fired in 1962, Ringo Starr being instated behind the kit and the Beatles living out fame and fortune until their implosion in 1970. Then we were handed another decade of solo pursuits, marriages and reunion rumours before the tragic death of John Lennon. Since then there’s been vault cleanings of old Beatles recordings, a Threetles reunion and the death of George Harrison. Currently we’re watching Ringo and Paul McCartney live out their, and our, Golden Years of Beatles history. We are on the cusp of moving from history-in-the-making to legend and myth. Thankfully, history has recorded more of the former and less of the latter. And one of those legendary stories, rarely told and passed off as a quaint lead-up to what became Beatlemania, is the actual birth of The Beatles.

The origin story, ‘Backbeat’, was director Ian Softley’s first movie and was released in 1994 after extensive research and collaboration with Beatle confidantes and friends Astrid Kirchherr, Klaus Voormann and the family of the late Stu Sutcliffe in 1988 and a touched up script by screenwriter Stephen Ward. For those whose Beatles knowledge begins with “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and ends with “The Long & Winding Road” these names might be alien to them. To die-hard Beatles aficionados they are the catalysts in turning a motley group of late 1950’s Teddy Boy leather-clad musical imitators into, arguably, the greatest musical group in the world.

The film received a BAFTA Award nomination (Britain’s equivalent to the Academy Award) and won Softley a London Film Critics’ Circle Award and Empire Magazine award for ‘Best Newcomer’. It was always Softley’s intention to turn the movie into a stage production. It took him 16 years to mount the first run of ‘Backbeat: The Birth of the Beatles’ at the Glasgow Citizens Theatre in Scotland which corrected some complaints about the movie (like Lennon singing “Long Tall Sally” which he never did). A second production at The Duke of York’s Theatre in London, England began its run in September 2011. The majority of the cast, crew and production staff from the London production has now taken up residence at Toronto’s Royal Alexandra Theatre for a five week run. And what a production it is!

As a monster Beatles fan and having seen Softley’s original 1994 movie I had a general idea of what to expect in terms of how the storyline might unfold. What I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer spectacle of the production and exceptional performances – musically and dramatically. The overview of the production involves the Beatles career and personal battles covering the pre-fame years 1960 through 1963. This was the period that found the five-piece band – John (Andrew Knott), Paul (Daniel Healy), George (Dan Westwick who is the only member of the ‘band’ not from the original London production), Pete Best (Oliver Bennett) and Stu Sutcliffe (Nick Blood) – being shipped to Germany by historically forgotten early manager Allan Williams to play shows in Hamburg’s famed Reeperbahn – a red light district filled with all manner of sex, drugs and Rock and Roll. A house gig rotating with other Liverpool acts at the hands of nightclub proprietor and ball-breaker Bruno Koschmider (Edward Clarke in a light-hearted role requiring parts Barber of Saville, Colonel Klink of ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ and a working vocabulary of German) at the Indra Club on three and six month rotations meant the band had to play seven days a week – sometimes six to eight hours a day. The Beatles are initially offended that they are not starting out at the famed Star Club. “It is called the Star Club, heir Peetles… and you are not stars,” responds Koschmider. The band is also daunted at the thought that they’d have to expand their repertoire beyond the 50 rock and roll classics they’d learned up to that point. But the paycheques, free beer and copious sex encounters were good – the drugs, used to enhance their stage performances, even better. And so, the story begins with a group of green teenaged blue-collar kids with little vision of their own futures having to “Mach Shau” (‘make show’) to impress the underbelly of a post-World War German proletariat.

Well, everyone but bass player Stu Sutcliffe. Sutcliffe wanted to stay in Liverpool, enroll in Liverpool Art College and become a famous painter; A fact that’s played with ample parts James Dean sunglasses-toting cool and geeky teenage hipster angst by a chiseled and suave Nick Blood. John Lennon – a cartoonish imagining featuring his most vile, comic and abrasive Scouse traits by the scene chewing Andrew Knott – had talked Sutcliffe into holding onto his rebel spirit long enough to learn three notes on a bass guitar and cajoling Sutcliffe into leaving his respectable art dream behind for the more unattainable rock star dream that was The Beatles goal of reaching the ‘uppermost of the Poppermost’. Lennon and Sutcliffe, long before Lennon and McCartney, were inseparable buddies. Sutcliffe would follow Lennon to the end of the world. Or Germany as it turned out. But when a young German artist, Klaus Voormann (played with level headed Bohemian panache by Dominic Rouse), becomes ‘the First Beatles fan’, Sutcliffe’s world begins to both crystallize and unravel after falling in love with Voormann’s photographer girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr played by Isabella Calthorpe. Calthorpe, who is unburdened by a musical instrument on stage, elevates the proceedings beyond a story about Five Lads from Liverpool. Because we don’t have any reference point to compare Sutcliffe to his actual character we must assume that Nick Blood portrays a reasonable facsimile of the real man based on anecdotes. With Kirchherr, we are watching her words and her reaction to the events on stage as if Calthorpe is wearing Astrid Kirchherr’s skin – right down to the bastardized German/English dialect and visually stunning exotic appearance.

As one would hope, the musical performances are above par (especially the incredible vocal talents of Daniel Healy as Paul McCartney) despite the fact that the real Beatles started out as barely functioning thrashers at the beginning of their German run. The equipment is authentic for the era, the sound is live and the multi-track audio is crystal clear. Meanwhile, the song choices – almost exclusively non-Beatles cover tunes from the band’s heavily documented early history (“Johnny B. Goode”, “Long Tall Sally”, “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me”, et al) – propel the dramatic sub-plot along. But, it soon becomes clear as the production unfolds, with incredibly executed atmosphere and rapid fire set changes, that the music itself acts more and more as a backdrop to the love triangle between Sutcliffe-Kirchherr-Lennon. The love story turns tragically Shakespaerian and The Beatles as a band are relegated to playing second banana in their own story. McCartney attempts to stop it from de-railing the band altogether and manages to pull off a coupe by getting The Beatles a backing gig with crooner Tony Sheridan (Adam Sopp) through legendary German producer/conductor/bandleader Bert Kaempfert (Charles Swift) for a truly amazing and humorous recreation of their floor stomping arrangement of “My Bonnie”.

By the second act, Beatles classics like “P.S. I Love You” and “Love Me Do” -prefaced by a brilliantly comic Lennon-McCartney writing session – are only there as dramatic punctuation to the tension on stage. For those who came for a rock show the last 1/3 of the evening grinds slowly. For those who came for the acting, it’s Stratford upon Angst as Calthorpe, Blood and Knott go 100% Tennessee Williams or, rather, Marlon Brando playing Tennessee Williams. Realistically, it would have been impossible to have framed it any other way. The Beatles lost both Sutcliffe and Pete Best within a year under different circumstances which left a pall over what would become the end of an incredible beginning to one of the most celebrated groups in history. ‘Backbeat’, unfortunately, can’t effectively rebound from the dark corner that the real story has painted them into. Oh, they try really hard with a brilliant recreation of the band’s discovery by manager Brian Epstein (in an accurately terse businessman-like reading by Mark Hammersley who has to deal with the Beatles’ patented snark) at the Cavern Club and The Beatles’ first recording session with George Martin (in a brief turn by ensemble member James Wallace) at Abbey Road studios putting the finishing touches on the ‘Please Please Me’ album. But it lacks the kick and the high octane found in the first act when the band was unfettered and living off adrenaline. To their credit, Softley and co-director David Leveaux are quite self-aware of how the mood of the crowd has been manipulated. Do yourself a favour… do NOT leave after the cast take their bows which some of my friends regrettably did. There is a third act – and it fully restores the feel-good mood started at the beginning of this 2 ½ hour sonic, visual and emotional extravaganza. I guarantee you’ll be dancing out the theatre doors. Editor’s note: Those attending should be aware that atmospheric smoke and herbal cigarettes are consumed feverishly throughout the evening in an effort to accurately recreate the time period. The language is also strong and not recommended for children under 12.

Twin Atlantic – Alternative Music With a Scottish Accent

Twin Atlantic is from Glasgow, Scotland, and their brand of music italicizes towards alternative. Each of the four members have been in other bands, Sam McTrusty who is the lead singer and plays guitar was in Arca Felix, that band had a punk, progressive and experimental base. Barry McKenna was in Think: Fire which had an Indie and rock sound and an alternative label stuck on them have since broken up, Barry plays guitar, cello and contributes background vocals.

Ross McNae was in LongStoryShort, they have a pop punk and alternative sound, Ross plays bass guitar, piano and helps with backing vocals in Twin Atlantic. The last member is Craig Kneale; he was in Ernest who played pop, rock and alternative music. Craig pounds the skins behind the rest of the guys. As you can see, when these four musicians got together they each had something different to bring to the amplifier.

They garnered a lot of attention with their first single titled “Audience And Audio” which was available through digital download, they released an EP titled “A Guidance From Colour” it became available for purchase through a CD format and digital download on January 14, 2008. Their next single was called “What Is Light? Where Is Laughter?” and it was a single deal with King Tuts Recordings.

Twin Atlantic have gone back into the studio and signed with Red Bull Records and plan to release a mini album, their producer is John Travis, and he has worked with heavy hitters such as Static-X, Monster Magnet and Kid Rock. If you want to catch Twin Atlantic on tour you will have to travel to the UK to see them. They have played in the states but unless you were hiding in their bearded faces you might have missed them.

Since Glasgow, Scotland is their home they have come from some familiar names in music like Mogwai. This band plays what is called math rock or art rock. The most recognizable name from Glasgow is Franz Ferdinand. Twin Atlantic has been known to play high octane Emo and their stage presence is commended because they play with a fire that has been missing from rock. A cello is heard on “A Guidance From Colour” showing that they can add more to a song than the standard four piece instruments require.

Musical exports like Twin Atlantic look for a fan base everywhere they go, currently they are limited by the embrace of those who haven’t heard these Scots cue up a song. While they are on tour in the UK you can catch them at The Download Festival in June and at The Futures Tent at T in the Park in July. The Sonisphere Festival will host them in August 2009.

To show that they love American music they have been known to play a cover tune such as “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper. They also will play “Fall at Your Feet” by Crowded House. Currently they are playing ten new songs that have not been released on a full length CD yet, some of those songs are called “Atlas Factory,” “Human After All,” and “Lights Out.” They have played a lot of music festivals to get noticed and the buzz is spreading about what a great live show they are. The lead singer McTrusty has been known to stage dive in order to create some great chemistry with the crowd. If you do catch them live and up front there may be a Sam coming at you.