Tegan And Sara - 170 Russell, Melbourne

Written by Brenton Harris

Tegan And Sara - 170 Russell, Melbourne

Canadian indie-pop superstars Tegan And Sara returned to the Melbourne stage for the first time since 2013 last night, putting on a pop masterclass which had an adoring audience entranced.

18-year-old Australian indie-electro prodigy Lupa J had early arrivers (including the night’s headliners) enthralled with her unique, violin-infused electro tunes, offering the perfect warmup. With such a defined grasp of performance and composition at such a young age, Lupa’s future stardom seems nearly destined.

Taking to the stage with only an acoustic guitar for accompaniment, Tegan And Sara eased into their set with a gorgeous rendition of Call It Off (from 2007’s The Con) which tugged at the heartstrings with every fragile note, and a delicate stripped-back reimagining of Now I’m Messed Up (from 2013’s electronica heavy Heartthrob ) which exposed the song’s raw emotion, putting their song-craft on full display.

Tegan engaged in the first of many humorous interactions with the sold-out crowd, as a two-piece backing band emerged and the familiar opening keys of Back In Your Head inspired roars of elation followed by a joyful audience sing-a-long.

Goodbye, Goodbye was warmly received, before Tegan introduced a sequence of songs from new record Love You To Death, including Drove Me Wild, U-Turn and Stop Desire, with the synth-heavy pure-pop tunes putting Tegan And Sara’s sonic evolution on display. They inspired a bit of action on the dancefloor before they stopped everyone in their tracks with a couple of spine-tingling performances in the form of recent single 100x and old favourite Nineteen, with the former’s raw honesty noticeably bringing some audience members to tears and the latter displaying the rare vocal chemistry the Quin twins share.

Walking With A Ghost (from 2004’s So Jealous) had voices and hearts breaking as the whole room strained to match the chorus’ unique vocal inflections, and an updated Living Room (off of their 2002 debut If It Was You) took it back to the future.

For most acts this would have been the performance peak, but for Tegan And Sara it proved merely the perfect opportunity for story-time with Sara and her ‘instafamous’ cats, as the quieter twin came to life with a series of scattered but enthralling anecdotes featuring internet trolls who “liked everything better when they played guitars” and Australia’s shitty internet speeds, and it only came to an end when Tegan forced the start of I Was A Fool. The irresistibly catchy electro pop of recent single Boyfriend and mega-hit Closer brought the set to a close in synthy style, with news of an impending return both in March for a tour, and in a few moments for an encore.

Performing in the same stripped-back mode as they began the show, Tegan and Sara turned in a flawless encore of Dark Come Soon and The Con, before ending where Australia’s love affair with these Canucks began, with Where Does The Good Go.

For many acts, early success can seem like a creative prison from which their fan-base and often the press won’t let them escape. Last night, Tegan and Sara proved once again that they are not one of those acts. Instead, they are one of the world’s most dynamic and consistently captivating pop outfits, with an impressive run of concurrent hits birthed of an ever-evolving sound and a deep back catalogue which is aging far more gracefully than many would have predicted.

Image: Tegan And Sara @ 170 Russell, Melbourne 25.07.16 / Photo: Darren Tan

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