Review: Yeasayer @O2Academy

Birmingham Academy
16th Feb 2010

Approaching the O2 I panic a little as it seems like they’re closed and I’ve made a huge mistake. However, as I am keenly reminded by a bouncer, this event will be taking place in the smaller Academy 2. I am surprised as, given the pure pop majesty of Yeasayer’s lead single from Odd Blood, ‘Ambling Alp’, I assumed more people would want to catch this show. But the prospect of the smaller venue excites me as there’s something about a more intimate gig that an arena just can’t capture.


However, after a few minutes of tonight’s supporting act, Brooklyn duo Javelin who take to the stage like an 80’s electro-pop revivalist version of Jedward, I find myself wishing that the venue was larger so that I can move further away from the stage, but I hang out by the merchandise stand and part with ten of my hard earned English pounds in exchange for a T-Shirt whilst the pair bounce around the stage gleefully unaware that they are not winning over the crowd, just happy to be out of Brooklyn.

When Yeasayer finally take to the stage to bop the crowd with their electro-pop revival (done the right way with not an inkling of Jedward) there is the beginning of a party atmosphere as the band build up from their more contemplative and ethereal sounds of ‘The Children’ through ‘Tightrope’ (which was perhaps the highlight of last year’s Dark Was the Night charity compilation) until finally they are attacking our hips with ‘Madder Red’, from the new album and ‘Wait for the Summer’, the sixties throwback good time tune from their debut.

Just as I’m about to start some quick stepping however, the band save me from certain embarrassment by sliding back into their slower numbers which, rather than slowing down the pace of a potentially good party, showcases the versatility and dynamism of the group. Vocals are shared by all three of the main members with each musician tackling more than one instrument, often during the same song, occasionally at the same time. The true front man seems to be Chris Keating however, and his quirky movements, air grabs and hand gestures suggest that he might be slightly tapped, just as all good front men should be.

A word of advice to anyone who is planning to go to the Academy 2 in the future; there is an excellent spot the other side of the partition by the bar which gives you a great view of the stage but doesn’t get too crowded in a venue which has a tendency to get very hot. However, that is also the path that everybody takes to the toilet and I find myself often frustrated in my efforts to dance. But hot damn it! I think I pull it off quite well and as the band run through almost every luminous and fresh tune off the new record the audience gets looser and looser until even the older gent to my left has got his groove on and the floor, walls and general odour of the room are pure sweat.

But many of us are left disappointed when the band leave the stage without a mention of their breakthrough hit “2080”, and the general clamour and insistence on an encore bring the band back to the stage. They say they never do encores, but then bands say a lot of things that are geared toward getting an audience on side. This works however and they wind up an already excellent gig with 2080′, complete with clapping and group sing-alongs from us, for this night anyway, their faithful followers.

Matthew Osborne

Alternate review by Andy Roberts posted on The here

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