What's a sure-fire way to instantly connect with a Singapore audience? Bring up the topic of food. The Canadian twins knew the way through our hearts, having performed here last in 2013. Lamenting on the fact that they've been eating too much on the Asian leg of their Love You To Death Tour — the duo were in Hong Kong before this, before moving on to Taipei — Tegan and Sara guiltily recounted the food they've had: Cupcakes, pork, rice and fried chicken.
Backed by drummer Brendan Buckley ("stylish and knows how to open a bottle of wine", a twin shared) and keyboardist Gabrial McNair ("almost lost a finger in the door of an airplane", she added), the twins were hot on the heels of the release of their eighth record, Love You To Death, which was released in June. While they began their 18-track set with Back In Your Head, it wasn't long before they proceeded with their pop hits from Heartthrob (their first flirtation with that genre in 2013): Goodbye Goodbye, Drove Me Wild and How Come You Don't Want Me. When they introduced Love You To Death's U-Turn as a song that will get fans to dance, Tegan unabashedly piqued that the Canadian part of her felt bad for making the crowd dance. Not that we minded.
Despite getting up at an early call time of 4.30am that morning, the 36-year-olds smashed hit after hit, mixing old favourites with newer tunes. While The Star Theatre noticeably wasn't filled out, it gave way for a more intimate gathering — fans, friends and lovers swayed gently when acoustic versions of Now I'm All Messed Up and Call It Off silenced the theatre, while fists pumped the air when things picked up with Walking With a Ghost, an "oldie but goodie" from So Jealous (2004). Boyfriend and Closer were crowd favourites, leading to encore acoustic performances of Dark Come Soon and The Con.
Food wasn't the only thing that connected the audience — cat face masks were also a favourite topic, one Sara was particularly enthused about. While the twins went through a rough patch during their So Jealous era in 2004, their banter on stage suggested a kinship of warmth and laughter — each taking a turn to stop each other when one rambled on about receiving too many gifts, or cat masks. Again.
Cramming a 17-year career into an hour-ish performance showed off the twins' work that has delved into genres as varied as indie folk and rock, punk-pop, synth-pop and pop. The portrait they've painted is a pretty universal one: Of love and relationships' triumps and tribulations, regardless of gender or orientation. This universal quality's an important notion, notably in Singapore's landscape where sensitive issues involving sexual orientation can divide. Tegan and Sara were both there when we needed them the most.
Tegan and Sara performed on 29 July at The Star Theatre, The Star Performing Arts Centre, courtesy of Warner Music and Live Nation Lushington Singapore. Listen to our favourite Tegan and Sara tracks here.