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