Identical twin Canadian indie rockers turned pop Superstars find their way Back In Your Head in their long overdue return to Dublin
Tegan and Sara Quin have had a very impressive career spanning the guts of two decades now and with the release of their eighth studio album it was about time they graced the shores of the Emerald Isle again after their last appearance in 2010 during their Sainthood tour. Their latest release, 2016’s Love You To Death, was met by mixed reactions from diehard fans that grew accustomed to their acoustic and sometimes folksy older music. However, there is no denying that LY2D is full of catchy pop songs filled with synth and the signature heartbreaking lyrics about love and loss that Tegan and Sara are absolute pros at writing by now.
Making their return to Dublin’s Vicar Street was a clever choice on their part; it’s small enough to feel like an intimate gig but has a capacity of around 1500, catering for their ever-growing audience. The setlist for this show was undeniably a little bit strange. Even though “Love You To Death Tour” was plastered on every poster and shirt available at the venue, they didn’t actually play any songs from this album until fourteen songs in. Instead they chose to open with fan favourite Back In Your Head and several tracks from 2013’s Hearthrob. These songs went down a treat with fans as Tegan and Sara bounded around the stage, unencumbered by guitars. A personal favourite was Shock To Your System with Sara singing to a past version of herself, “You’re only meant to cry once in a while, who gave you reason? // What you are is lonely” The twins were very clever about keeping old songs up to date with their new sound, with new arrangements of fan favourites Northshore, Walking With A Ghost, Alligator, Living Room & Nineteen, after all they’ve been playing them for almost two decades so it’s important to keep these songs feeling fresh.
Halfway through the set, the backup musicians left the stage, leaving Tegan and Sara alone onstage with a guitar. This is when the show truly felt like a Tegan and Sara gig. Mentioning that their album The Con turns 10 this year, they played stripped back versions of the title track and Call It Off, with the crowd taking on lead vocals due to Tegan suffering from the flu and losing her voice. This was a really special moment, I think the crowd took Tegan and Sara by surprise with how excited everyone was to finally hear these songs, singing along with every word.
Finally we get to the first song from LY2D, Hang On To The Night, an emotional yet uplifting pop ballad that Sara penned after the loss of their aunt the previous year. Hearing the crowd sing back “Loss is pain but it can save you” at the top of their voices was a particularly emotional moment. Next up was BWU, an upbeat LGBT song where Sara sings to her girlfriend “Save your first and last dance for me, I don’t need a white wedding” The twins have both been very open about their sexuality throughout their career and have agreed not to marry their long-term girlfriends until same sex marriage is legal for all (here’s looking at you Northern Ireland) so it’s always refreshing to hear them sing shamelessly and openly about being gay.
They ended the show with the lead single from Hearthrob, Closer. This had the crowd dancing more than any other song as Tegan bounced around the stage to the multilayered synth and the crowd whooping at the rather provocative lyrics “All I dream of lately is how to get you underneath me,”
Obviously they did an encore as the crowd screamed the house down, returning to the stage to play three more songs. They actually finished the show with one of the best tracks on LY2D, Stop Desire, an upbeat pop triumph, which was an excellent note to end an unbelievable show on.
As I’ve been a massive fan of theirs for the last 7 years, I could be a little biased but in all honesty there wasn’t a moment where a song fell flat. The crowd hung on their every word and the banter the twins was hilarious, as always. Let’s just hope it’s not another 7 years before they decide to come and play another show here (and getting to meet them before the show was absolutely amazing, sadly I didn’t have enough time to get them to do a wee interview for QR… maybe next tour).
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