Walking past the line that has been forming since the early morning for Tegan and Sara and seeing fans playing a song on their own acoustic guitar for the band’s videographer sums up the palpitating atmosphere surrounding The Institute this evening.
Tegan and Sara are on their first UK tour supporting their Heartthrob record, their seventh studio album, with Birmingham being their final UK date before moving on to the rest of Europe. A good portion of the crowd have followed the twins throughout every date of the tour, and are just as excited as those who have not.
The first and only support act, Waxahatchee, are a name that most people do not catch at first, with lead singer Katie Crutchfield mumbling it into the microphone before the trio recite songs that, while poppy and catchy, do not come across as being too complex. However, this all changes when Crutchfield stands stock still, hands by her side and her voice comes across almost haunting, with only bass and drums making up the music. The exclusion of guitar is a clever decision, as more of the crowd begin to take notice, even more so when Crutchfield talks to the crowd properly for the first time, explaining that the next song will be just her, and her voice transforms, flowing and threading through the tones of her electric guitar, as drummer Keith Spencer and bassist Katherine Simonetti tune and sit aside. While Waxahatchee do not seem to be well versed in stage presence and banter, not even announcing song names, their music more than speaks for itself.
Tegan and Sara, however, are completely comfortable on stage and with the audience, one of the perks of performing for well over a decade. They begin with four tracks from Heartthrob back to back (‘Drove Me Wild’, ‘I’m Not Your Hero’, ‘Goodbye, Goodbye’, ‘I Couldn’t be Your Friend’), which are all met with screams and singalongs before Tegan asks the audience if it’s ok to play older songs, met with an approving roar from the crowd. Their set is truly a crowd pleaser, mixing their newest tracks with some of their oldest, along with solid fan favourites, such as ‘Call It Off’ and ‘Living Room’. The twins themselves are truly thankful, with beaming smiles and a coy “thank you” being aimed at the crowd after each and every track.
A special mention goes out to the lighting of the show, with the Heartthrob cover blown up and projected upon to either cover up or incorporate it into bespoke light shows for each individual song. In the encore, Tegan explains that they have created a medley of songs that they often don’t play anymore (but always get asked to), and their mum who is on the tour with them has challenged them to add an extra song to it each night. And so they do, with long-time band member Ted Gowans stood behind them with an acoustic guitar and an overly excited audience who dance the night away.