An Intimate Night Out with Neon Trees
A LocalBozo.com Concert Review
Irving Plaza, New York, NY
July 22, 2015
Concert Review: Neon Trees at Irving Plaza
Just hours removed from taping an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, pop-rock quartet Neon Trees was officially welcomed back to New York City with open arms by a young and exuberant crowd. The band’s latest stop would be a treat of sorts to fans- the smaller venues on this leg of touring were purposefully booked along a jaunt to be known as ‘An Intimate Night Out with Neon Trees.’ But despite the diminished capacity at each city along the way, the performance itself was rarely dialed down, satisfying a hungry audience with the band’s brand of big pop music pageantry throughout their nonstop ninety minute set.
Though the band hasn’t released a new album since 2014’s “Pop Psychology,” that’s not to say they haven’t been hard at work. In June, the group released a video for a non-album single called “Songs I Can’t Listen To,” a track fueled by post break-up reflection earmarked by a trademark Neon Trees catchy hook. The new song would be a fitting open to the show- slow building to a frenzied crescendo and catchy to a fault- undoubtedly a precursor of things to come over the fifteen tracks that would follow.
Despite being credited with some of Top 40’s most successful singles over the past five years, the band is led by its enigmatic and charismatic frontman (and recent LocalBozo.com interviewee) Tyler Glenn. His loud choice of wardrobe as the band’s singer is commensurate with his often outstanding vocals, which afford him the range to touch all of the notes on covers from Amy Winehouse (“Love is a Losing Game”) to Dexy’s Midnight Runners. “Come On Eileen” was an admitted surprise as the show’s closer. Drummer Elaine Bradley meanwhile, though nearly eight months pregnant, chimes in often brilliantly with high-pitched melodies while perched behind her kit, dutifully pacing the show with each calculated rhythmic beat.
While hits like “1983,” the always energy-laced “Animal” and set closer “Sleeping with a Friend,” certainly seemed to garner the most fervent reaction from the standing room crowd, it was Glenn’s proud declaration as a gay man that truly had the entire room rallying at his feet. Wildly gyrating his hips and often aerobically kicking his feet in the vein of a Radio City Rockette throughout the show, it’s impressive enough that he’s able to maintain such command of the stage while also performing so admirably with his vocals. Unfortunately Glenn’s energy could not be contained- a wardrobe malfunction would noticeably split his tight black pants right down the middle during a particularly inspired rendition of “Love in the 21st Century.”
Nevertheless, the show would continue without a hitch. By the time the band was set to launch into hit single “Everybody Talks,” crowd anticipation was downright feverish and Glenn to his credit allowed them to take over, yielding to the sea of collective voices that would overtake his own amid a dance party that was erupting on the floor beneath him. Masked by their poppy distinction, there’s a real sense of introspection evident in Glenn’s lyrics- words that are often overlooked because of each song’s energy. The singer’s been on record as having battled bouts of darkness- some he would even touch upon during the show. But subject matter aside, you’d be hard pressed to find a collection of people sharing as equally a positive experience than in the crowd at a Neon Trees show, where aspersions are cast aside, problems are momentarily subdued and fans can kick back and revel in the style of pop music that’s unequivocally deemed most fun.
- Jane Van Arsdale