Twin Shadow delivers too little too late at lackluster Turner Hall show
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The past few years have seen their fair share of ’80s revivalists, and George Lewis, Jr., better known as Twin Shadow, might be the most critically adored of the bunch. Mainstream success, however, continues to elude him. Last year’s Confess produced a couple of minor blips (“Five Seconds” and “Run My Heart”) on fringe FM radio, both of which were highlights of Monday night’s Turner Hall performance. But there’s been a curious lack of promotion for such an overtly marketable personality as Lewis. He seems to have the image and ambition for pop stardom, but hasn’t figured out how to sell himself yet, which translated into a somewhat lackluster effort in front of a small but adoring Milwaukee crowd.
Twin Shadow’s current tour, dubbed the True Story Tour, was supposed to feature a storytelling aspect; according to the unwieldy official website, “…for every city we play my father or myself will tell you one True Story.” This half-baked idea never materialized, unless the revelation that drummer Andy Bauer is a Milwaukee native counts as a story, and no mention was ever made of George Sr. It wouldn’t even be worth mentioning if George Jr. had put on the type of captivating performance that he’s been capable of in the past (last year at Lollapalooza, for instance), but for much of the set, Lewis seemed distracted and unengaged, giving the impression that he was basically blowing off a poorly attended, small-market show.
The band didn’t exactly gel as a unit for much of the show, either. The interesting subdued take on “Tyrant Destroyed” had potential but sounded like a work in progress, and most of the newer tracks didn’t improve upon the album versions. Lewis can be a fierce guitarist, but he didn’t really showcase his talents much; “Castles In The Snow” was the only song that got off the ground in terms of rousing lead playing, and nobody else onstage picked up the slack individually, although Bauer’s integration of digital drum pads with the traditional kit was impressive at times.
After the set ended somewhat abruptly with “At My Heels,” Lewis left the stage for maybe 30 seconds before returning and launching into “When We’re Dancing.” The energy in the cavernous hall skyrocketed; it was as if a different band came onstage for this one last chance to wow the crowd. It may have been too little too late, but with this final anthemic burst, Lewis gave Milwaukee a taste of his true potential.