Yeasayer – Academy 2, Manchester – 20th October 2010

Posted on October 21, 2010

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written for High Voltage

Within the space of two studio albums, Yeasayer have managed to accrue a string of first-class hits. Although these albums display dramatically different sounds, the quality of each is undeniable. Tonight, at Academy 2 in Manchester, they delivered a set containing the very best songs from their career to date and the result was something rather special.

To succinctly assess the individual qualities of Yeasayer would be difficult given the myriad of different talents on display. Musically they offer a huge sound, with strong rhythms and swirling synthesisers at the core of each track. Vocally, the band are pretty much unrivalled by any contemporary pop act; with breathtaking range and glorious melodies their most lethal weapon. Anand Wilder and Chris Keating share lead vocal duties, and they are ably assisted by the backing vocals of bass player Ira Wolf Tuton.

They opened with ‘Madder Red’, a gorgeous song that has received substantial 6music radio airplay since its release in August. It contains rich, archetypal pop melodies that are a joy to hear again and again. Wilder takes lead on this track and provides a vocal full of emotion. His unassuming stage presence and softer singing style contrasts starkly to the approach of Chris Keating; who performs dramatically, with a much more high-octane voice. Add to that Tuton’s high-pitched backing vocals and you are left with a potent formula. ‘Wait for the Summer’, the highlight of the evening, is indicative of this hugely impressive ability. The vocal arrangement seems so complex yet the three of them in unison is actually an effortless sight. There can be very few bands with even the patience, let alone capability, of arranging vocal harmonies in this way.

Recent singles ‘O.N.E’ and ‘Ambling Alp’ impressed greatly, with their intrinsic ability to rouse an audience a joy to behold. ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Sunrise’ were equally as striking, proving that they can write songs in many different styles. Even tracks which lack something on record, such as ‘Rome’ and ‘Mondegreen’, took on new resonance in a live format. It should, in fact, be said that the set was pretty much flawless from start to finish.

Originally scheduled to be held in the main Academy venue, this gig was downsized due to a lull in ticket sales. It is a travesty that a band with such talent cannot reach out to a much larger audience. It’s great for the fans, of course, as more intimate venues usually mean a much more memorable gig, but it would also be nice to see such talented individuals receive recognition that is proportional to their ability. The sheer amount of hooks on display should surely dictate a much bigger fan base. Nonetheless, their performance tonight suggests that future growth is inevitable and more exciting releases lie in wait. Yeasayer are a band in fine form right now, with solid albums translating brilliantly into live performance.

Set List

Madder Red

Rome

Wait for the Summer

Tightrope

Red Cave

Grizelda

Sunrise

Mondegreen

Strange Reunions

O.N.E

Ambling Alp

The Children

2080

words by Robert Pollard

Photography by Sam Ellis

Interview with Anand Wilder

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Posted in: Music