I went to see Yeah yeah Noh last Sunday in Brum.
I was slightly wobbly in a fashion entirely appropriate to the last day of the football season, but I’m fairly sure the band were immensely enjoyable in an attractively shambolic way. The appalling weediness of early 80s indie productions doesn’t apply live, despite the occasional ropiness of the PA on this occasion. Their sound has been enhanced by the addition of keyboards and by a new drummer who eschews the Mo Tucker approach in favour of actually playing his instrument. Also, Derek hammond on vocals sounds much stronger than formerly; unless you’re an opera singer, time and alcohol tend to improve the voice, and of course the person.
The band clearly enjoyed this their first outing since the Early Cretaceous. Though in age terms they resemble the middle generation at a wake, there is a pleasing visual novelty about a group of pop musicians who look content rather than either spuriously smug or risibly alienated. The young crowd warmed to them and there was even some half-hearted dancing from the cool post-teens with 40-year-old haircuts. Afterwards an enthused popette, sharing the Designated Smoking Area (the pavement) with bassist Dermot Carney, confessed to finding it all ”Ëreally trippy.’
So, if you’re in the Birmingham area on June 22nd and the afterglow of joy at the last-minute humbling of the bacon-faced hypocrite of Old Trafford is beginning to fade; if you cannot bear the thought of Jools Holland asking another bemused old soul man who his influences were as a gaggle of lamentable oafs crane at themselves in the monitor ”â investigate Yeah Yeah Noh, living proof that it’s the also-rans and never-weres that should reform. Who wants to see Morissey preen on a screen from the next postal district while sipping flat Heineken from a plastic glass? Pre-load with a few modest quenchers and wamble in the direction of the Wagon and Horses in Digbeth to experience The Sound of Old Birmingham. They’re fun.