Electro-pop singer Lights urged her mostly young and female fans at Red Deer’s Memorial Centre to stay youthful by remaining imaginative.
“One of the things that inspired me — and which is the antithesis of bills and taxes and egos and all the other struggles of adult life — is being a kid again,” she said, to whoops and cheers from about 600 Central Albertans on Saturday night.
“Don’t ever let your imaginations grow old — play video games, keep going to shows . . . or doing all the dumb things that you like doing . . . Don’t forget that part of life.”
Valerie Anne Poxleitner, who built her music career around her nickname Lights, knows of what she speaks.
Her latest tour that stopped this weekend in Red Deer might never have happened if she hadn’t overcome writer’s block by using her childhood for inspiration for her new album Little Machines.
At the same time, Lights’ newest tunes suggest she’s gained a certain maturity over the last year or two, and that the adult responsibilities of marriage and motherhood have also helped her grow as a songwriter.
A highlight of the evening was her powerful and moving ballad Don’t Go Home Without Me.
Bathed in orange light beams, Lights sat behind the keyboards to perform the torch song about two people growing old together, presumably written for her musician husband, Beau Bokan. “(If) our hearts stop beating . . . and our kids start leaving/I hope you know I appreciated you. . . All of the little things that you did, they got me through the hardest days.”
The song seemed more deep-rooted than a lot of her dance music, and got a big audience reaction — as did Running With the Boys, which featured Lights on guitar. The harder-edged female empowerment song that lyrically recalled her “feral” tomboy childhood had a memorable groove, laid down by her three talented backup musicians.
Her dreamy, mystical Portal hinted at something spiritual and searching, rising in intensity towards the end.
Of course, there were plenty of dance-able tunes, such as Muscle Memory, Toes, How We Do It, My Boots, and Siberia. And the wiry, B.C.-based singer looked ready for boogie-ing, dressed in form-fitting work-out attire and white sneakers.
The 27-year-old did some do some bouncing during the bubbly song Timing Is Everything. Lights also joked that she learned about the importance of timing by watching the film Interstellar — “which really confused me . . . I’m thinking about that movie every day. I’m thinking about it now!”
She had a laid-back, playful relationship with her listeners. Lights brushed palms with the tuque-sporting types bopping in front of the stage, and traded jokes with (mostly male) fans who couldn’t help blurting out things like “I love you!”
Her performance of Flux and Flow caused a young audience member to cartwheel up the aisle. Fans were waving their arms in the air during the staccato percussion of Last Thing on Your Mind. Banner was another favourite, as was the catchy, more rocking Same Sea.
But Lights’ remarkable vocal range really shined during her performances of her hits Drive My Soul and Up We Go.
She’s that rare artist who sounds even better live than she does on her albums, or on the radio. And Up We Go could well portend which direction her career is headed.
The concert was opened by Wildlife, a passionate five-guy indie band from Toronto.
Best known for the radio single Lightning Tent, Wildlife also impressed the crowd with the jangly, echo-y guitar tune Bad Dream, as well as lead singer Dean Povinsky’s affable sense of humour.
At one point Povinsky joked he was whistling-challenged. “Maybe I’m not dexterous with my mouth.”