Tegan and Sara – O2 ABC – 09/06
Tegan and Sara have always enjoyed cult status; after a decade of creating bittersweet pop songs fused with everything from folk to rock, however Heartthrob, the latest album from everyone’s favourite Canadian twin pop duo, peaked at no. 3 on the Billboard Top 200, signalling a significant mainstream breakthrough after years of cultivating a fiercely loyal fan base. Previously celebrated predominantly by the LGBT community (both twins are lesbians), their emotional but infectious music has begun to be embraced more widely, and their recent gig at O2 ABC will have undoubtedly won over a legion of new fans.
The duo kick off their mammoth set with ‘Drove Me Wild’, the first of 4 new tracks and the perfect indication of the more accessible, electronic pop sound of Heartthrob. Followed by ‘I’m Not Your Hero’ and ‘Goodbye Goodbye’ they deliver absolutely perfect pop songs; full of synths and swooping choruses that make the hairs on your neck stand. They then bring out their guitars to appease older fans with tracks from their extensive back catalogue. The duo manage to go from creating amazing vocal harmonies to singing in perfect unison so seamlessly; showing the newbies that Tegan and Sara have earned their title as the best pop act you’ve never heard of.
Highlights of the evening include their rendition of ‘Shock To Your System’, with pounding drums reminiscent of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’, an awesome visual display and the twins’ almost visceral delivery. Each gives the other the chance to engage with the crowd on their ‘own songs’, allowing each of them to prove they both play an intrinsically different role in the group. (It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I think Sara gets my vote.) The duo might not be overly active onstage, but they certainly have the charisma to hold the crowd’s focus thanks to their emotional vocal delivery and onstage chemistry. They may have been backed up by a four piece band, but they are the absolute focal point and demand your full attention.
What is most striking about the gig, however, is the atmosphere generated by the deep connection they share with their fan base; the typical onstage banter was pretty funny but there were moments when the pair was really engaging with the crowd, which begins to explain the group’s longevity and fiercely loyal fan base. Finishing off with a sublime acoustic rendition of ‘Call It Off’ and a medley showcasing some of their back catalogue, Tegan and Sara ended the night on an emotional high and proved that they’ve earned their long awaited mainstream success without changing what makes them special.