Live review: Tegan and Sara, Waxahatchee at ABC, 9/6/13

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Post show someone seeing Tegan and Sara live for the first time commented: “I never really thought of them as a gay pride band but the crowd were really into the show”.

Oddly enough this is how the show felt; like a half glorious sing-along, half lesbian social gathering, yes both of the Canadian sisters are openly gay but why this should translate to their audience is slightly baffling as their music is by no means bracketed to the gay market.

Tegan and Sara essentially are an indie pop band, but their sound has gone to in various directions in over 20 years recording together but always has had that pop leaning; perhaps an explanation why the other half of the crowd is made up for enthusiastic youngsters and no explanation on their gay icon status.

Before the headliners though there is a chance for New York alternative folkstress Katie Crutchfield, aka Waxahatchee, to present herself to a Glasgow audience.

Straight away it’s obvious why she’s has been receiving so much praise for her two releases thus far, American Weekend and Cerulean Salt, as her lush twang drifts addictively over the full but somewhat baron ballroom of the ABC.

Her tracks are short sweet folk numbers delivered from beneath a powerful rhythm that translate perfectly live from her lo-fi debut and cleaner follow up.

The only thing lacking is an audience eager to see her, this is a Tegan and Sara crowd first and foremost and Sara citing Cerulean Salt as her favourite record of the year stating: “we’re handing you a piece of bacon… covered in chocolate – just take it” mid set might prick a few people’s ears but the fact is it’s after the set can’t be altered.

Waxahatchee’s set is almost lost in that ‘social gathering’ vibe of the event, people’s ignorant chatter doesn’t drown out Crutchfield’s warm and clear voice but is does put power to the annoyance of non regular gig goers respect for support acts.

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Still, this is a set that will win Waxahatchee a few new fans, although not in the masses that follow the headliners, and the next time we see her in Glasgow expect a show not to forget in a more intimate and appreciative setting.

Tegan and Sara are greeted with a massive cheer as they’re led out my their band, and it can’t be said that the duo aren’t likeable, their chirpy stage presence and catchy pop songs are joyous to say the least.

There are moments when the set becomes monotonous for non super fans; like when Tegan speaks about taking her mum on tour with them; it’s a lovely sentimental gesture but goes on far too long, the same can be said for when Sara is introducing their band.

When they let the music do the speaking that’s when their true charm comes across, they have a wealth of delightful pop numbers at their disposal seven albums down the line, and although a lot of that back catalogue has received mixed critical reception they have more than enough to fill an hour and half without filler.

That said their new single ‘Closer’ is possibly their most addictive to date as its electro pop vibe and sing-along chorus riffles through the venue reminding us that these guys haven’t lost their knack for pop gems.

An encore of four acoustic tracks, including a megamix of older tracks for those have delved deeply into the back catalogue, ends the set on a humble note but Tegan and Sara are a band that are loved by their audience and it’s clear that sentiment is shared by the duo.

Yes, a lot of their audience is built around their sexuality but that left aside these girls are charming and their music, while not ground breaking, can’t fail to put a smile on your face and while they have that they’ll be welcomed back around the world with open arms.

more photos

Words: Iain Dawson
Photos: Ronnie Poffley

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