Tops shimmer and dazzle on their final tour stop at the El Rey Theatre, Sean Nicholas Savage opens with show-stopping performance

Tops at the El Rey Theatre by Steven Ward
Tops at the El Rey Theatre by Steven Ward

Canadian indie-rock darlings Tops lit up the El Rey Theatre for the final night of their tour, playing an amorous collection of lambent love songs that fill their discography. Onstage the incandescent trill of singer Jane Penny weaves its way sublimely through the band’s dreamy, synth-pop and soft-rock mixtures. Playing mostly from 2020’s I Feel Alive, Tops gave the crowd jam after jam. From the ecstatic and vibrant shimmer of “I Feel Alive” and “Colder & Closer,” to the sweeping harmonies and guitar-propulsions on “Witching Hour.” And no moment felt more transcendent than when Penny was on her flute, lending a divinely riveting whistle from its pipes that fill some of the best bits of songs like “Direct Sunlight” and “Looking to Remember.” 

CHVRCHES PALLADIUM
Tops at the El Rey Theatre by Steven Ward
Tops at the El Rey Theatre by Steven Ward

Sean Nicholas Savage opened the night for Tops, whom the enigmatic singer/songwriter played with when they were known as Silly Kissers. Singing barefoot beneath a single-stage light, his red suit brilliant in the dim glow, Savage gave the crowd a show-stopping performance. Known for belting ballads that showcase not only his soul-stirring vocals but poetic lyricism, the set was filled with both the luminous howls of Savage and the deafening silence elicited from the crowd that lingered between his hurtled cries. His most recent release Life Is Crazy was the source of much of the night’s magic, but the many new fans he made that night and on this tour should be delighted to know that Savage is a prolific musician with multiple albums to discover — and to absolutely witness live. 

Words & Photos: Steven Ward

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