Neon Trees at Hoxton Square
Bounding onstage to the driving arpeggio of Moving in the Dark, Neon Trees’ front man Tyler Glenn had the intimate London audience clapping along with jazz club pizzazz before the first song had left his astonishingly ample lungs. A peacock with a heart of gold, Glenn has the stage presence of a man who knows his role in the process of entertainment like the back of his hand. Every move concise but not stolid, choreographed but not conceited, this is a man who eats, sleeps and breathes performance, with a passion quite unparalleled.
With Glenn as the impeccably dressed ringleader, bearded bassist Branden Campbell is the lion in the wings ready to pounce into action with lightning fast licks, performed with skilled suavity and relaxed showmanship, perfectly accompanying the band’s consummate drummer, Elaine Bradley, in audibly grandiose syncopation. Bradley brings experienced bombast to the show, playing for the benefit of the song with an eagle-eyed cool; her drumming is an entertaining spectacle in itself. Guitarist Chris Allen’s frenzied riffs, and equally camera-shy but utterly invaluable touring guitarist, David Charles completed the vibrant effect.
The band’s set was comprised mostly of tracks from their 2012 sophomore release Picture Show. Their shift in direction was most visible during new single Lessons in Love: raging synth beats hybridised with their trademark pop-rock spirit. Energetic belter Teenage Sounds portrayed their inventive post-punk sensibility, adding a raw edge between the sing-a-long friendly hits of yore (such as 2011’s 1983 – a song the enigmatic singer proclaimed he would “take to church”).
Allowing the excitable young audience a much-needed rest, Glenn took to the keyboard, performing a stripped down rendition of Your Surrender, a highlight on debut album Habits. Replete with Springsteen-esque vocals, the performance was touching and sincere, granting the voyeur perceived entry into the singer’s psyche, if only for a tender moment.
The pace soon returned with a cover of 80s hit Don’t You Want Me Baby, an inclusion that would have been better substituted for an original, but still a resounding success. International smash hit Animal and most recent triumph Everybody Talks filled out the set with arena-ready grandeur.
This is a band with unbridled, visceral, bona fide commitment to their craft; a rare and beautiful display of showmanship at its fullest.
Photos: Adam Imiolo
For further information about Neon Trees and upcoming events, click here.
Watch the video for Lessons In Love here