Lights illuminates, delights at Fillmore show

Warner Bros Records/Courtesy

“Here in the open, cool as a hand in the dark,” belted Lights, her voice cascading over the packed crowd at the Fillmore on Dec. 8. The synth-pop goddess Lights greeted the adoring audience with an unexpected opener, “From All Sides,” which is a bonus track on her newest album, Little Machines. The song slides in smoothly, with reverby electric guitar and eerie, stretched-out vocals seeming to echo out over a desert plain.

Nearing the end of her U.S. tour with the Mowgli’s for Little Machines, the songs off the 2014-released album still sound as fresh and exciting as they did during her last stop in San Francisco in November 2014 at the Regency Ballroom. “This is my favorite tour ever, for some reason,” Lights declared. Her fans seemed to agree.

Even as she matures — now married and raising her first child, adorably named Rocket — Lights’ indefatigable energy has yet to fade. She cavorts across the stage, hardly still for a single second. She sweeps the crowd into a joyful reverie, especially shining on tracks such as the synth-happy “Toes” from her sophomore album Siberia. And where she sometimes holds back in her recorded music, the live setting gives Lights the freedom to belt out and ham it up in a way that really showcases the incredible power in her voice. She’s less polished, but she’s more raw — and therefore she better connects with the audience.

Enhanced by her lively dance moves and gorgeous vocals, Lights exudes sweetness and charisma. She’s not trying to be sexy or mysterious — she’s just up there doing her thing, trying to make your day better with her upbeat, lighthearted tunes. Songs such as “Second Go” and “The Last Thing On Your Mind” from her debut album, The Listening, especially struck a chord with the crowd. These sugary-sweet, endearing songs from the beginning of her career are well-loved by long-time fans of Lights, eliciting the most impassioned sing-alongs of the night.

Aside from the blissful synth dance parties she led, Lights also charmed the crowd with a few acoustic songs. Just as captivating stripped down on the acoustic guitar as she is with an arsenal of electronic production behind her, she played a never-before-heard acoustic version of “Meteorites” from the new album, as well as an old acoustic favorite, “Peace Sign,” from Siberia Acoustic. Lights historically delivers an acoustic counterpart to each album she releases, showing her versatility as an artist. Fortunately, as she assured the crowd, Little Machines Acoustic is coming soon. Until then, she’ll continue to lift spirits and light up hearts as she tours her brilliant electropop songs across the world.

Madeline Wells covers music. Contact her at [email protected].

Correction(s):
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Lights is the stage name for synth-pop artist Valerie Anne Poxleitner. In fact, Lights’ birth name is Valerie Anne Poxleitner, but her legal name is Lights.