You Me At Six: London – live review

You Me At Six
Wembley Arena, London
8th December 2012

Words: Tom Eldred

I have seen You Me at Six perform live on no less than 12 occasions. I’ve seen them play venues such as Camden Roundhouse, Brixton Academy, Hammersmith Apollo, Southampton Guildhall and both the NME/ Radio 1 Tent and Main Stage of Reading Festival. A sold-out headline show at Wembley Arena, however, is something rather more impressive given the current state of rock music, with very few bands enjoying such a meteoric rise to fame and popularity in 2012. The music press seems to have spent a large part of the last few years highlighting the current lack of success and mainstream popularity within the rock scene. “The death of rock music” is a phrase that seems to have been thrown around a lot. In some ways it is difficult to argue with the critics offering these rather dark predictions, however Saturday night at Wembley was definitely a good start.

First support slot of the evening was provided by We Are the Ocean, fresh after releasing their third studio album Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow. Despite a very shaky opening rendition of “Machine”, largely due to poor sound, the band picked up and powered through 7 tracks, with “The Waiting Room” being a particular highlight if the set and began to grab some of the crowds attention.

Deaf Havana quickly followed We Are the Ocean on-stage and truly sparked the evening to life. It had only been a few short weeks since I last saw Deaf Havana perform live, that time at their biggest ever headline show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire and one of the best shows I have been to in 2012. Sticking to material from their 2011 album Fools and Worthless Liars the band did not waste an opportunity to showcase their considerable talents to a much larger audience. If there was a misstep then it was possibly the choice to play the alternative version of “Anemophobia” which slowed the pace of the performance down a little too much, especially with such a limited set time. “Leeches” and an emotional performance “Hunstanton Pier” more than made up for this and ensured that Deaf Havana did not look remotely out of place on the big stage.

At around 8.45 the sound of 16 year-old girls screaming meant that the arrival the headline act was sure to follow. The lights dimmed, fireworks exploded off a giant “V” structure above the crowd, the curtain dropped and You Me at Six flew into a strong rendition of “The Swarm”. Despite seemingly forgetting the words towards the end of the song, something of a habit of his lately, lead singer Josh Franceschi put to bed any worries of his vocals being off after his recent vocal problems. What followed this was 19 tracks of great modern British rock. Finding a great balance between older and newer material, the band played through some of the most popular tracks from their ever-swelling back catalogue, including “Loverboy”, “Kiss and Tell”, “The Consequence” and “Take Off Your Colours” (which was definitely one of highlights of the night). “Save It For the Bedroom” and “Always Attract” made a return to the set list after what seems like a lengthy absence and both drew particularly big sing-a-longs from the crowd.

Showing some of their new-found versatility the You Me at Six delivered a rather jazzy intro to “Playing the Blame Game” before eventually moving on to an extremely heartfelt rendition of “Fireworks”. The final track before the encore was one making it’s live debut, the closing track from Sinners Never Sleep, “When We Were Younger”. A questionable choice of song, particularly for this set as it seemed to drag a little too much and could have given way to a more suited song like “The Rumour”. Nevertheless it at least made for an interesting and fresh performance from the band.

The encore was perhaps everything to be expected from this show, comprising of 3 of the bands biggest hits “Stay With Me”, “Bite My Tongue” and “Underdog” all delivered with the energy and intensity that You Me at Six always bring to the stage. As the final fireworks went off and confetti rained down it served to highlight the importance of this show, not just for You Me at Six, but as a statement about British rock music. A fact that was not lost on Josh Franceschi and most of the crowd was that an annual event was happening simultaneous to this show, that being The X Factor Final. The contrast between the two events could not have been more evident. Whether or not the story that The X Factor Final had to be moved from Wembley to Manchester, having been held there the previous year, because You Me at Six and already booked the venue for “The Final Night of Sin” is true or not, the night proved to be a small victory for rock.

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