Twilight Driving – The Hope & Ruin, Brighton – 30th November 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

It’s testament to the power of the Brighton scene that it feels like every week a local band is making the step up to headline a venue they’ve once played first support in to a couple of friends. This is true for Brighton quartet Twilight Driving, who played to a packed out Hope & Ruin in aid of their brilliant new single ‘Dangerous’ – which we called a, “Hook-heavy, synth-laden call-to-arms” on its release. No doubt one of, if not the, greatest showcase of the band thus far in their short careers, Twilight Driving owned the stage from start to finish, exhibiting their stadium-ready pop-rock to their passionate crowd.

On a night that heavily featured a tropical take on indie-rock in the vein of indie icons Bombay Bicycle Club and Two Door Cinema Club, High Wycombe band Only Sun opened the night with a dazzling display of rattling and jingling pop. A band that have impressively released a song each month in 2018, they’re an exceptionally polished outfit who navigate the stage with ease. Their latest single, ‘NHS70’, a celebration of our fantastic health service, is a whirling and swirling number with a euphoric chorus that’s reminiscent of 00s heroes The Wombats. A confident display, with swagger far outreaching the small stage, Only Sun look like the real deal.

Next up were Brighton four-piece Fond of Rudy, who impressed us last month with their “polished, wickedly catchy track” ‘Illuminate’. Continuing the indie-pop theme of the night, there’s a definite 1975 connection to the band’s vocals and guitar licks. A highlight of their set comes from a beautiful cover of woman of the moment Ariana Grande, when the band took on her iconic single ‘No Tears Left to Cry’. An assertive stamp on the song, the band produced a confident performance that more than set the night for Twilight Driving.

With two excellent supports thrilling the packed-out audience, the stage was set for arguably Twilight Driving’s biggest musical moment so far. Arriving on stage to ABBA’s ‘Super Trouper’ – a brave move by any band – the Brighton quartet ripped into third single ‘Between the Sheets’. No doubt their biggest, best and catchiest song, it was an excellent decision and one that got the crowd moving and singing along with some panache. With a hook of: “In between sheets/you’re my favourite work of art” its glossy melancholia evokes the likes of Spector and The National.

The real influence for the band, however, is instantly clear as soon as they crash into second single ‘When Love Goes Wrong’. With a crooning drawl, and synth lines built for far bigger venues than The Hope & Ruin, it’s Las Vegas indie giants The Killers that Twilight Driving evoke. Much better than a straight homage, though, the band have the technical and lyrical nouse to stamp their mark on the iconic sound. Debut single ‘Soft & Pink’, for example, is an Americana-tinged gem, with a beautiful hook-heavy chorus of: “Loving you is never easy” which makes it impossible not to sing-along.

This night is all about ‘Dangerous’, though, and the brilliantly euphoric track is given its dues as the final song (before an impromptu encore). Bursting with both melancholic gloom and jubilant elation providing a perfect dose of infectiousness, it’s a layered track that shows the growth of the band. One of Brighton’s finest gems, Twilight Driving are showing that they’re one of the most polished bands on the local scene.

Liam McMillen