The band waltzed onstage and launched straight in, hitting the ground running with a rendition of ‘Caring Is Creepy’ fuelled with such high energy that drummer Jon Sortland’s hat bounced right off his head within 30 seconds of the song and he looked as though he might launch right off his stool as he pounded away on his kit.
With an introduction so powerful, one had to wonder how they could maintain such force for the remainder of their set, though they proceeded to do so with ease. Following on with the appropriately named ‘Australia’, crowd members chimed in with the harmoniously sung “la la la la” before the band continued on with ‘Name For You’ and ‘Kissing The Lipless’. The energy onstage built as the band members skipped and high-kicked their way around the stage before the black curtains behind them were drawn to reveal a larger than life image of a psychedelic melting skull.
Onstage, every surface was adorned with an assortment of faux vines and flowers of every colour, adding a romantic touch to the already stunning setting of the Palais Theatre. The Shins had barely made it through a handful of songs before audience members could no longer contain their excitement and the entire room rose from their seats to dance along with the band. All the while, guitars were exchanged almost by the track, and almost every instrument imaginable, from tambourines to a harmonica, came into play throughout the set.
“It feels like we’ve played two different sets,” exclaimed guitarist Yukki Matthews mid-performance, a resounding statement felt by all who were witnessing the juxtaposition of explosive poppy tunes and gentle, emotive ballads. Ensuring that any expectations of their performance were surpassed, the band surprised the audience at every opportunity – be it their use of electronic, cosmic sound effects or turning the fuddled intro of one track into a roaring cover of AC/DC’s ‘Highway To Hell’ – and the crowd were eating it up like a pack of half-starved feral dogs being fed for the first time in weeks.
Although the entire set was awe-inspiringly beautiful, the tail end of the act was where the performance came to fruition, as the band served up a climactic conclusion. It was in the last moments that violins emerged from behind the curtains before the band wrapped up the show with ‘Simple Song’ which was so mesmerising that at least one audience member shed a few tears – yes, I’m referring to myself here. The band then disappeared from the stage after saying their “thank you” for only a short while, re-emerging to a bellowing crowd for an encore of ‘The Fear’, which saw the return of the violins, ‘New Slang’ and ‘Sleeping Lessons’, the latter of which they melded with a snippet of Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’, providing the perfect end to the performance.
The Shins’ live performance sounded exactly as crisp and tight as their records, only heightened by the fiery energy they produced on stage. For a band who are known for their floaty melodies and sweetly sung, poetic lyrics, the energy they brought was a pleasant surprise and meant that it was the kind of performance that sticks in your brain all week as you walk around trying to remember who you were before witnessing such a momentous performance.
Highlight: The addition of violins on tracks such as ‘The Fear’ and ‘New Slang’.
Lowlight: The distracting glow of the iPhone in front of me which was used to Snapchat the ENTIRE set.
Crowd Favourite: ‘Simple Song’.