Neon Trees returned to Fort Lauderdale's Revolution Live for their third time in four years, Thursday night. This time, the Provo, Utah four-piece was in town for their Intimate Nights Tour and the show truly lived up to its title. Having seen Neon Trees every time they've performed at Revolution, this was easily the loosest, friendliest crowd of the lot and it's all Tyler Glenn's fault.
Last year, the Neon Trees frontman came out in a Rolling Stones article. Since then, this newly freed spirit has come across as a changed man, unreserved and happier than ever. That wave of liberating energy pulsated through the Fort Lauderdale crowd, last night.
Kicking off their set with the non-album single, “Songs I Can't Listen To,” Glenn and Neon Trees unleashed a glittering, monstrous disco-rock assault on the audience that lasted the remainder of the evening. Glenn, as usual, was at the forefront of the attack, busting out Michael Jackson toe stands and limber rock and roll slides. His vocal gymnastics were just as impressive: he is a modern, 21st Century version of Freddie Mercury, sans the ‘70s porn stache.
In between singing hits and fan favorites, Glenn bantered with the crowd, fretting about age (“I'm at the age of AHHH!”), fashion (“I'm a 31-one-year-old man who wears shirts, pants, and shoes like this and it's okay”), and concert etiquette, asking the crowd to wait a few songs before taking selfies.
The setlist ran, for the most part, chronologically. With the exception of the first and last songs of the night, Neon Trees cherry picked from Habits (2010), Picture Show (2012), and Pop Psychology (2014), in that order. Although the stage setup was less elaborate than their previous visit, songs like “Lessons In Love,” crunched harder with Glenn interacting more with the crowd. Several times he shook hands with fans mid-song. At one point he politely took a cellphone from a fan's outstretched hand to take several selfies as he crooned the hit single, “Sleeping With A Friend.”
The band dedicated “Mad Love” to the audience. Maybe they do that in every city, but with the intimacy Glenn built, it came off as genuine. During the organ intro of “First Things First,” Glenn delivered a testimonial about the band's appreciation for their fans and the impromptu congregation wholeheartedly approved his message of gratitude. As if to punctuate the sentiment, instead of walking off stage in order to force the tired old let-the-crowd-shout-for-an-encore shtick, they powered through and Glenn plucked three lucky fans to join him on stage to perform their biggest hit, “Everybody Talks.”
By the time they closed the concert with a cover of Dexy Midnight Runners' “Come On, Eileen,” a lot of calves were sore and even Glenn was exhausted (and I can't even imagine how gassed drummer Elaine Bradley must have been, seven months pregnant with her second child.) Still, they accomplished something special. They didn't release a new record this year. They toured extensively in 2014, and had no real reason to tour other than to alleviate their own cabin fever. But by giving their fans a show they never asked for, Neon Trees gave them exactly the kind of intimate experience they've always wanted.
The show opened with a set from Fictionist, a quartet also from Provo. Dressed in what seemed to be their dad's clothes from that 1993 family vacation to Disneyland, Fictionist put on a fun and buoyant performance. Sounding like a cross between Bear Hands and Passion Pit, they rocked the crowd — jean shorts, high socks and all. Next up was Coin, a synth-driven, Nashville-based outfit who recently released their self-titled debut LP. They were a tempest of energy, the lead singer and keyboardist, Chase Lawrence, banging on the keys as hard the drummer beat up his kit.
In between the sets, Revolution's house DJ spun a party mix of ‘80s hits and old-school R&B. It had the crowd vibing hard. A few dance-offs blossomed, the audience bopping, high-stepping, and at least one group that got a hearty applause for their enthusiastic whip and naenae.