Anticipation built towards the forthcoming audio and visual experience about to happen in the Hard Rock Live in Orlando, Florida on the night of May 27th, 2014! Darkly and behind closed white curtains, a piano- stark and alone, slowly played a few opening bars. At first unrecognizable, but then familiar! It is Where Is My Mind? -Originally by the Pixies from their 1988 Surfer Rosa album, played the way Tori Amos covers Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit! The curtain then comes flying down amidst fans screaming and cheers..... Lead singer of the Neon Trees, Tyler Glenn- in a yellow suit and chartreuse jacket, descends the central staircase like Marilyn Monroe in Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend! The stage is a three-tiered platform, stairs descending down the center. There are four vertical LED screens above the second stage and a few horizontal on the bottom stage, with Elaine Bradley on drums and the keyboard in the middle, played by Tyler. There are two head shaped signs on either side of the stage facing each other, painted red, with geometric shapes reminiscent of Keith Haring prints! Tyler spins very energetically, doing an impersonation of Micheal Jackson as he sings Lessons In Love!
The band is very energetic and polished in the second week of their North American tour. Your Surrender has a mix of joy, anticipation and longing with a beautiful slow section. Tyler has mastered the crowd, getting them to sing along. He talks to the crowd saying, “I have no love in my life right now,” wondering out loud whether it is even possible in this jaded time, as he goes into singing Love In The 21st Century.
For the fourth song in the set, Neon Trees sings one of their first hits, Animal! Tyler sings with all he has, seemingly going hoarse. He sings with such earnestness! With Tyler starting from the top of the stairs, Moving In The Dark becomes one of their most dynamic songs tonight: Starting slow, then poppy, again slow, then hard rocking as they ever get!
Then a little country blue grass... and then pounding until the end!
They then perform, I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends), their second single from the Pop Psychology tour, reminiscent of Duran Duran. Chris Allen really gets into it, dancing as he plays guitar. The chorus sounds very redolent of The Strokes, a little disco-y and kind of a cheeky serenade the way Tyler sings it.
The second verse of Trust comes in more rocking... the song breaks down, guitar soloing, then the keys join; slowly, grinding with the rest of the band. They move slowly, but none-the-less hard and gritty, then come back with far more beauty. The song continues to evolve and morph: eighties rock, disco beat, ephemeral keys... until the final chord!
Faster, but ultimately a sad story, Teenager In Love begins hopeful enough. Tyler sings, “What is the point of it?” The maturity of the lyrics contrast with the subject matter, as if looking back wistfully after a long time, rather than being merely ironic.
Is this the 21st Century version of ‘The morning after’ now? In Text Me In The Morning, Tyler promises he won’t lie, but you know that is a lie.
Voices In The Halls starts out with some 80’s sounding strings. Tyler sings with an impassioned plee. The band comes in, keeping the rhythm slow, filling up space with deep pathos.
Next, Neon Trees covers the Human League song Don’t You Want Me with more rock flare, with Tyler screaming with an angst missing in the original!
In Sleeping With A Friend, Tyler sings the intro a capella, then the drums come pounding in hard over this otherwise poppy and catchy finishing song.
After the reprieve, Neon Trees come back out in only a few minutes, returning with a reprise of The Pixies cover Where Is My Mind, starting with an acoustic under green light, and a giant brain behind Tyler on the high stage!
Neon Trees end the show the way they end the Pop Psychology album, ironically with First Things First! Tyler obviously has something important to tell the audience- A final note to let them ponder on once they leave: “Whatever you do in your life, no matter how much you give, don’t forget to receive what you deserve- even if you don’t get everything you want!” Amazingly truthful words....as the concert draws to a close. Final bows with the band were gratefully taken, and they all walked off the stage. Hard Rock Live patrons have one more great show under their belts to reminisce about! It was truly a soul-stirring, musically artistic night!