Originally published on Fuse Magazine UK
8 May 2014
Nothing quite brings out the tamest, soberest, and straightest crowds to LDN’s infamous Heaven like a 14+ rock show –- but despite the usually rowdy venue’s uncharacteristic tameness, Neon Trees threw a fine party.
If you haven’t heard of Neon Trees before, they’re famous for basically two reasons: 1) they are arguably the best thing to come out of Provo, Utah (a.k.a. a quaint corner of America that isn’t exactly known for stellar music) since hearing aids, and 2) having a recently out-and-proud gay lead singer – somewhat surprising coming from an entirely Mormon-comprised band. Neon Trees, however, is a band beyond boring geography and sexuality controversies, and their stellar show at Heaven proved it.
The band ripped through past hits like “Lessons In Love (All Day All Night),” “1983,” “Everybody Talks,” and their best-known song “Animal” with wild fervor – in addition to a slew of new tracks like “I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends),” “Sleeping With a Friend,” “Love in the 21st Century,” and a lovely, haunting track called “Voices in the Halls”. Frontman Tyler Glenn shot back and forth across the stage through every song, at times moving his mic aside so he would have more room to dance. And dance he did! There were jives, jumping, that cool standing on tip toes pose Michael Jackson owned (R.I.P. to the King of Pop), high kicks, and so, so much pelvic thrusting.
At times it felt more like “The Tyler Glenn Show!” than a Neon Trees headliner – a natural side-effect of such a charismatic lead singer – but the band made up for it with plenty of buddy moments onstage and built-in moments for their respective instruments to shine. Noteworthy: the sick bass line for Branden in “I Love You (But…),” guitarist Chris riffing his way through a delightful and punky cover of The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me?” and a “Mad Love” vocal solo from drummer Elaine that had the whole crowd roaring.
But back to Glenn, whose stage presence is worth paying for even if you’ve never heard of Neon Trees. There’s a little Freddy Mercury, albeit sans falsetto, in this flamboyant 21st century frontman, mostly in his unbridled persona and self-assured stage poses. Beyond that, Glenn’s cheeky banter with the audience was both hilarious and revealing in a refreshing way, especially when alluding to his sexuality.
“Ok, only the boys sing ‘text me in the morning’ now”
All in all, Neon Trees were a complete uproar and a wild party certainly fit for the halls of Heaven. A different one than the place is used to? Sure. But the youth and unbridled enthusiasm brought by bands and fans alike was a much-needed mid-week injection of life … and oh, Tyler, if you’re reading this, that orange jacket was FAB.
Catch Neon Trees’ new album “Pop Psychology” out in the UK on 17 July 2014. Until then, you can hear several of their new singles — including this writer’s favorite, “I Love You But I Hate Your Friends” – on iTunes UK.