Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Neon Trees at Irving Plaza

Tyler Glenn and Branden Campbell
Vocalist Tyler Glenn and guitarist Christopher Allen grew up in Murrieta, California, but in 2005 formed Neon Trees after both had relocated to Provo, Utah. Several personnel changes later, the band stabilized as a quartet in 2006 with bassist Branden Campbell and drummer Elaine Bradley. Glenn took the band name from the lighted trees on a sign at a burger restaurant. Neon Trees hit with its debut album in 2010, and maintained a thriving career as a pop radio staple. The band's third studio album, Pop Psychology, was released on April 22, 2014.

Just hours after taping an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Neon Trees headlined a sold out concert at Irving Plaza tonight; the live show was part of a two-month fan-centered "An Intimate Night with Neon Trees" tour in which the band is playing smaller venues than usual. Neon Trees opened with its recently-released non-album single, "Songs I Can't Listen To," and then followed with 14 catalogue songs in near chronological order plus two cover songs. Much too intense and often blinding backlighting frequently left the band in silhouettes, but despite the obstacles Glenn was a charismatic and commanding front person, dancing in place, pacing the stage and talking to the audience between many of the songs. Aided by a touring guitarist, David Charles, Neon Trees performed a series of fan favorites, highlighted by Glen and Bradley singing duet on "Mad Love." The most humorous moment in the performance was after Glenn left the stage briefly during "Love in the 21st Century" and came back on stage with a shirt tied around his waist; after the song, he explained that the seam in his pants split during the song, then quickly turned around and lifted the shirt to flash his bare bottom under the split. Neon Trees then performed an Amy Winehouse cover, "Love Is a Losing Game." The 90-minute set ended with a not-so-faithful cover of Dexy's Midnight Runners' "Come On Eileen." The high-octane show presented big pop in all its pageantry, with rich vocals, catchy sing-along choruses and an energetic band performance. The performance was classy and rocking enough to appeal beyond Neon Trees' base audience of screaming teenage girls.

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