You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Tegan and Sara + Waxahatchee

Bigger is better, so they say. Identical twins and alt-icons Tegan and Sara Quin came to this conclusion last year, six albums into their career, while playing support slots in huge arenas for The Killers and The Black Keys.

The result of this ambition for a new, bigger sound was Heartthrob, the synth-led, glossy pop album that landed to near-universal acclaim in January. And, while they don’t have arenas of their own to fill just yet, they do have a devoted audience, with the venue full long before their arrival.

First up though are Waxahatchee, the solo project of Katie Crutchfield named for a lake in Alabama, whose sound is a throwback to some of the earlier output of tonight’s headliners. Her lo-fi but loud numbers from recent release Cerulean Salt and debut American Weekend are well-received, offering a distortion-filled calm before the storm.

And a storm it is. Backed by a band of four, Tegan and Sara’s pacey 21-song set is dominated by Heartthrob, with all but one song included, and the crowd echoes the adulation their new direction has met with.

There is still room for songs from four other albums too, and they slot in perfectly, the new synths even find their way onto a number of the early songs. Back In Your Head from The Con and Where Does The Good Go from So Jealous receive particularly loud singalongs.

Their unique chemistry shines during several bursts of conversation; Tegan discussing the fear of burping on stage and Sara asking for better aim from the audience after being hit by a flying bra. Of course they’re siblings, so there are also a few playful barbs between them, but the lasting impression is of humility; the Canadian sisters truly appreciate their audience, and can’t say it enough.

Ending their set, Closer is irresistibly infectious, the perfect encapsulation of their big and bold pop star credentials. And, if it's even possible that that isn’t quite your thing, they return for a stripped down encore, which features a medley of all the songs fans have asked for recently. They really are a nice bunch. Next stop, arenas.