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Tegan and Sara at The Fox Oakland 10

Tegan and Sara love Manchester to death on Valentine's Day

16 February 2017, 11:30 | Written by Joe Goggins

"Tegan's making out like I'm fucking Twigs, or something. Or Justin Timberlake. It's a lot to live up to."

Sara Quin's comments come just seconds after her twin sister has promised not to swear this evening, in a display of reverence to their surroundings - the Albert Hall was built as a chapel about a hundred years ago and, accordingly, the stained-glass and wood-panelling tends to place its performers in that frame of mind.

Then again, it's not like the Church would ever approve of Tegan and Sara anyway. A decade ago, they were awkward indie rockers trying to shoehorn themselves into various scenes and never quite seeming to fit. Today, gloriously, they trade in utterly irresistible electropop, and are vociferous advocates for the LGBTQ+ community. Tonight's show feels like a love-in. And so it should.

It is probably to the credit of the Canadian twin sisters that their reinvention over the course of their last two records has been simultaneously so startling and so life-affirming. Sainthood, released back in 2009, saw them in transition, but it was on Heartthrob in 2013 that they really set their stall out; it was very much Tegan and Sara gone out-and-out pop.

Last year's superlative Love You to Death went even further. It didn't bend the Tegan and Sara blueprint to the requirements of the mainstream, like Heartthrob did; instead, it reintroduced us to the sisters as effortlessly slick, no-nonsense pop stars over the course of a full-length that gloriously only ran at about thirty-two minutes - the precise opposite of the predilection for duration-based excess that's so evidently all the rage at present.

It certainly isn't that the duo have eschewed material that predates their pop phase - The Con, their 2007 breakthrough album, is liberally represented - but a long way from its original form. The Quin sisters are endlessly kinetic presences tonight, sweeping across the stage with aplomb, but that ends up meaning that they barely touch a guitar throughout. Pretty much all of the material that predates Heartthrob has been broken to fit the post-2013 mould.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Besides, there's concessions to the Tegan and Sara of old at the set's midpoint. The latter mentions that not only did The Con see the band begin to spike in popularity across Europe; it also marked the first time she was cat-called on tour here in the UK. "In Canada, they'd just say something about my tits. I'd rather be told that I'm fit. I'm immediately receptive to your objectification."

She's swiftly cut down by her sister, a few feet away. "Somebody's working through some trauma!"

And that's the measure of the two. They’re a throughly engaging presence, as much as the crowd utterly screams Tuesday night with their body language - it's not quite sold out, and Valentine's Day or no Valentine's Day, the dance party that the likes of "Closer" and encore finisher "Stop Desire" should command never do materialise.

Perhaps that's for the best, though. Tegan and Sara have launched towards the universality of pop music at the same time that they've worn their political activism more firmly on their proverbial sleeves than ever before. This is a band for everybody - both the loud and the quiet included. Let's cherish them.

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