Tegan and Sara @ O2 ABC, Glasgow, 17 Feb
There are two things to pay attention to at a Tegan and Sara gig. One is the band themselves, the other is the audience you’ve surrounded yourself with. There are very few other bands who can claim to have as devoted a crowd as Tegan and Sara, very few audiences for whom a band is clearly so important.
According to Tegan (we know, they’re twins, and so this should go without saying, but they are really hard to tell apart), Glasgow saved their band ten years ago when they were touring The Con. The sisters had an argument backstage, were an hour delayed in coming on, but the audience kept chanting, kept insisting they come and play. After a while their manager suggested that maybe a Glasgow audience wouldn’t accept this kind of tardiness, and so they went and played the show, settling their differences in the process.
They’re a different band now than they were ten years ago, as their set tonight shows. The spiky, angular, guitar-driven indie rock has given way to synthy power-pop that approaches perfection. The Con single Back In Your Head is given a small, electro makeover to start the set, although in truth, it takes a few songs for the band to get going – fatigue from a gruelling touring schedule perhaps showing, although they rally and pick up as the night goes on.
Despite the spontaneous dance-alongs that occur for tracks like Boyfriend, Closer, Drove Me Wild, and White Wedding, the moments where it's just the two of them, with a small acoustic guitar, drive home their appeal. Playing The Con, they give the song a lot more space than it has on record, pulling it back at the chorus to show the range of their voices. Nineteen, off the same record, gets a similar treatment.
It’s strange, as an audience, to think of pop stars as being within reach. Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Kanye – they all seem to exist on a different plane, and even when you see them live, it feels like they’ve been parachuted in from another world. Tegan and Sara are the opposite – they connect, they talk to their audience, they try to get them dates, they console them through heartbreak, they say “this song’s for you”, and they mean it. They’re two of the best pop stars around.