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Tegan and Sara – The Troxy, London 11/06/13

13 June 2013, 14:42 | Written by Kelly Griffin

From their beginnings as two young teens playing angst-tinged indie rock way back in the mid ‘90s, Canadian twins Tegan and Sara have, remarkably across seven albums, become unlikely pop stars.

With each release they’ve progressively grown their fan-base and achieved greater mainstream success without selling-out; they’ve also managed to adeptly tread the tightrope of evolving their sound – sometimes in starkly new territory – while still endearing themselves to their original fans. This is in no way a small feat. And, it’s this laudable success that has brought them to play the sold-out art deco Troxy tonight – their third London gig in just seven months.

Identical in black jeans, leather jackets and even matching hairdos swished to the same side, Tegan and Sara come blazing out with first song ‘Drove Me Wild’ as pink neon strobe lights flash into the rumbling audience. From the get-go, it’s a rambunctious affair and the twins barely get into second song ‘Not Your Hero’ before the 2000-odd fans here tonight break out into a clap-along and fist-punch the air as they jump side-to-side.

Backed by a four-piece band – drums, keyboards, bass and a forth swapping between guitar and second keyboards – their sound tonight is astoundingly all-engulfing. It’s stadium-pop. If you can believe it, it sounds bigger, bolder and tighter than the quality on their polished new hit album, Heartthrobs.

With hired guns to play their songs, Tegan and Sara spend about half the gig without their instruments (guitar and keyboards) and are able to just sing and rock out. Watching them dancing on-stage, you kind of get the feeling that these two, who grew up worshipping ‘80s rockstars like Bruce Springsteen, are pretty much living their dream right now.

The set is heavy on new material as well as some songs from sixth album Sainthood, which makes logistical sense as both albums have strong pop-leanings and the songs from both albums stand seamlessly side-by-side when played live.

When the duo do perform an older song, the acoustic-guitar-driven fan-favourite ‘Walking With a Ghost ‘mid-set, it almost sounds flat in comparison to the synth-rich new material – and especially against their club-leaning track ‘Feel It In My Bones’, which they collaborated on with Dutch dance DJ Tiesto. But the crowd lap-up the indie old favourites as much as the new, spending most of the 90-minute set belting out each song word-for-word.

In fact, when Tegan and Sara return on-stage for a stripped-back encore of just the two of them and one guitar, Tegan begins plucking the intro to ‘Call It Off’ but before she even begins to opens her mouth to sing the first line the crowd are singing it for her, continuing in full force to chant the entire first verse and then the chorus. It’s a rare spine-tingly spectacle.

Following on with another old favourite ‘Nineteen’, with full-gusto they play a jaw-gappingly impressive mega-medley that mashes together about 30 seconds of ten of their older songs, including ‘My Number’, ‘You Wouldn’t Like Me’ and ‘Speak Slow’, and then top off a stand-out night and fairly faultless gig with a rousing performance of another golden-oldie, ‘Living Room’.

By now, Tegan and Sara are seasoned performers and they have perfected the art of putting on a crowd-pleasing show that brings together their genre-pushing new material while also happily playing the “T&S classics”. It’s hard to imagine how the pair’s sound could possibly get any bigger than this and so, where they go from here is really anyone’s guess. But, as tonight’s show has certainly shown, there’s one thing for sure: their loyal league of fans will be behind them all the way.

Photograph by Jason Williamson. See full Troxy Gallery here.

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