Neon Trees played the Tabernacle in Atlanta on Friday night and demonstrated that the spirit of the 1980’s is alive and well in the 21st Century. Neon Trees version of pop rock captures the essence of that new wave era but updates it, repackages it, and then delivers it in an energy-packed, fast-paced, and upbeat set that left the band and the audience exhausted.
Neon Trees have been around since 2005 but have most recently achieved greater prominence based upon two hits, “Animal” and “Everybody Talks”. Their most recent album “Pop Psychology” released earlier in 2014 is the reason for this tour and their current music just continues on from where their earlier albums left off; high tempo pop music with a considerable amount of irony in the lyrics.
In a set that lasted more than 90 minutes Neon Trees borrowed significantly from their latest album but also sprinkled in some of their earlier music and a couple of covers as well. They started at a fast pace and accelerated through the set.
By the time they got through a brilliant version of their latest single "Sleeping With A Friend", the last song of the regular set the Tabernacle crowd was in a frenzy with Tyler Glenn leading the faithful in song and dance. Besides "Sleeping With A Friend" other highlights included "Trust", "Teenager In Love" and the duet between Glenn and Bradley on "Mad Love".
While Neon Trees consists of four permanent and two touring members including Elaine Bradley on drums, Branden Campbell on bass and Chris Allen on guitar the band’s front man is its focal point. Tyler Glenn personality suits the bands’ name. His stage persona was as colorful, and electric, as his banana yellow suit and gold Dr. Martens. His stage presence was one of perpetual motion as he danced back and forth for the entire set and it is his energy that provides the catalyst for the entire audience to get into the music.
The consummate 80’s new wave, new romantic front man, at times Glenn channeled Billy Idol’s characteristic sneer to get his point across. At other times Glenn was soft spoken and sincere, especially when talking about the angst he’s experienced over the last few years. Rather than barrel through the songs without an introduction Glenn slowed down and provided context from some of the music. These interludes were done to catch his breath as much as anything else such was the energy he put into each song.
He acknowledged and thanked the crowd for knowing the words to the songs because it meant a lot for him to write the songs and their knowing the words reflected their love for the band's work. In introducing "Everybody Talks" he noted that with the bands increased profile, he was getting asked many of the same questions about every facet of his life, his frustration with that summed up with his comment "I don't have the answers, that's just who I am!"
The band directly channeled the 1980’s playing two covers from that era. First they played the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby” with Glenn and Bradley singing the respective male and female roles and then followed that, later in the encore, with the Pixies “Where Is My Mind?” Both were pretty faithful to the original versions and just served to demonstrate just how talented the band is!
The Tabernacle was not full for this concert and for those that didn’t go, you missed a perfect opportunity to see one of the best live performances that will likely happen at the venue this year. A little more than an hour and a half of 21st century energy transference from Neon Trees to the audience via the 1980’s. Great stuff!
Lessons in Love (All Day, All Night)
Love In the 21st Century
Moving in the Dark
I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends)
Close to You
Teenager In Love
Text Me In the Morning
Voices In the Halls
Living In Another World
Don't You Want Me (Human League cover)
Sleeping With a Friend
Where Is My Mind? (Pixies cover)
First Things First