Yeah Yeah Yeahs; Alexandra palace – live review

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
ATP Festival, Alexandra Palace

Words/Pic: Willow

It’s been a long day at the Yeah Yeah Yeahs curated ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror and the crowd should be getting weary by now. The headliners have picked a wide array of other bands to play across the two stages from Jah Shaka’s roots reggae sound system to Mick Harvey doing Serge Gainsbourg songs in English. None of the main stage bands in the huge hall of Alexandra Palace have quite got the place going. The Black Lips sound thin and lacklustre and even the usually exciting John Spencer Blues Explosion seem to just blast through a muddy sounding set without pausing for breath.

It’s the Yeah Yeah Yeahs who inject the needed burst of energy, drawing an adoring throng all bustling and jockeying for position with people surging through to the front as the set begins. Opener Sacrilege with its Massive Attack back beat and trademark Karen O tender-then-wailing vocal already sounds like a Yeah Yeah Yeahs classic. And there are so many tonight. It’s easy to forget how many fantastic sounding singles the band have but it’s almost as many as Karen has outfits. She comes on in silver suit, hat and black wings, then dons some insect specs for Mosquito, title track of the band’s latest LP.

Karen comes back on stage in her KO sequin emblazoned leather jacket for Zero which alongside Soft Shock and Heads Will Roll, all from 2009’s It’s Blitz get the audience bouncing to disco beats. There’s smiles all round but none wider than Karen O herself. She just won’t stop bouncing, clearly in her element enjoying playing for the UK crowds that first broke the band a decade ago. They’re a consistently inventive band too, never standing still and employing loops and carefully constructed and sometimes haunting effects like the sound of a train going over rails on the slow and dark Subway, but still retaining the pop sensibilities to give them mass appeal.

The three peace line-up is now a touring 4-some with the addition of Dave Pajo (Slint, Papa M) on bass/guitar/keys who really adds depth to the songs including supplying acoustic guitar to Gold Lion, the highlight of the show building from the bass/snare beat with an insistent stutter, breaking down into Nick Zinner’s screeching guitars and Karen’s delectable howl. Dave leaves the others to it for some runs through 1st album Fever to Tell’s heavier, crunchier, punchier tracks and after Karen declares a delicately delivered Maps ‘Yeah Yeah Yeahs last song’, they tear into Date With The Night for a frenzied finish.

A decade and four albums under their belt Yeah Yeah Yeahs are formidable as ever. They are back for appearances at Latitude Festival and elsewhere this summer. On this form they’re not to be missed.

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