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The crowd gathered at the Apollo tonight seem approving of the support act for Yeah Yeah Yeahs. These are K-Holes from New Jersey. This bunch seem suitable bed-fellows for the headliners - they're quirky, raucous and passionate with a tendency to fling themselves riotously around on the floor, banging their instruments so hard that I'm surprised there aren't giant craters imprinted on the stage by time they depart. Then again, craters on stage would seem suitably apt of the band about to step out next...
I'd been breathing in the new album Mosquito for a couple of weeks before witnessing the Yeah Yeah Yeah's triumphant touch down at the Apollo tonight. I'd observed that though there's a zany, multi-chromatic sheen to this album, if you dab your finger in the crackling space dust and take a proper lick you'll quickly discover its darker energy - as well as it's gentler ethereal glow. There's a conflict fuelling this record and this extraordinary performance tonight is an explosion of that struggle - the splintering light disperses the hungry shadows and as Karen O stands tall, resplendent in all the colours of the rainbow her conviction is indisputable - she's immediately a force to be reckoned with but those shadows are never far away....and they lurk at the side of the stage holding out for a suitable opening line. Karen O's defiant dance looks determined to chase those shadows away for GOOD! That's the general feel of the record and the performance - a return to the light, a stampede against staleness and blandness. Bland is not a word that belongs anywhere near this band.

As the triple Y's descend majestically behind as a backdrop there’s an immediately futuristic feel and now with light, stars and celestial circles swirling at her feet Karen dives into current single Sacrilege with the words kind of falling from her lips like raindrops plopping irrepressibly  from the clouds: "Fallen for a guy/Who fell down from the sky/Halo round his head/Feathers in our bed."

Fascinating lyrics that suggest an angel has tumbled to earth and straight into her arms - but - it seems to be something so beautiful it threatens normal earthlings who twist the tale into one of guilt and shame. On the album we have the force of a gospel choir to plead for redemption on this track but in the live show we just have the swooping chord changes and Ms O's pleading prayer which actually generates the same intensity as the recorded version which I could hear like an echo in my head anyway. A few songs in and I'm thinking YYY's are one of the best bands in the world today.  From as far back as the Beatles shaking their mop-tops and screaming "She loves you, yeah yeah yeah" this triple affirmative mantra has carried an energy that uplifts, lulls, shrieks and celebrates quite unlike any other three little words you can string together. It's a clever band name and belongs to a clever trio who show their diversity and originality with each track unleashed tonight.

About half the set is lifted from Mosquito and these new songs stand strangely comfortably beside the older material. It’s actually quite astounding how seamlessly the band zip from the screeching post punk of Art Star to a strident, soaring anthem like Zero back to a tender ballad such as Maps which surfaces in the encore. It’s a true testament to their talent that they can pull off so many tempos and temperatures but never let the intensity wane.

The track Mosquito sees Karen O sporting a pair of insect-style sunglasses as she tears through this crazy bloodthirsty number. The vampire theme re-surfaces on numerous tracks on the new album whether in the shape of alien invasion in Area 52 or the oppressive dependency found in Slave. Subway featuring the hypnotic thud of a real New York subway train is one of my favourites on the album. It’s a love song, a searching song, almost a lullaby with numerous jumbled jumping off and on points. Tonight it’s performed poignantly as Karen O stands almost straight-jacketed as though crammed in the subway car and singing intimately against another passenger/guitarist. Watching, I find myself almost holding my own breath as though I too am riding the train and stuck without adequate personal space.


Tonight I’d believe it if you told me a spaceship had beamed down the incandescent Karen O and her extraordinary band-mates to wake us all up and splash a bit of colour into our world. When I exit the building I feel like running, like my feet are barely touching the ground. I board the 192 and notice how happy the YYY fans seem to be. The drabness of Ardwick has been dispelled. It’s as though a little bit of that magic stardust’s been scattered in our hair. Isn’t that what going to see a live rock and roll band is supposed to do? Yeah, yeah…YEAH!        

­­Review by Mary O’Meara
Photos by Melanie Smith –

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