Last night, I had the pleasure of watching Years & Years live at Plymouth Pavilions.
The London trio’s sold out UK tour saw the group playing across the country to packed out venues, bringing their electronic, soulful pop to thousands of fans.
Supporting the group, was MØ, a female musician from Copenhagen, with a huge following of her own already. MØ couldn’t have been a more perfect fit for the main support slot on this tour, with her sound being so complimentary to that of Years & Years.
I remember reading somewhere that Years & Years actually supported MØ previously, so it was kind of endearing that for this tour it was the other way around. It’s clear that both of the acts are more than just musicians touring together, but I’ll get to that later.
MØ’s set included some of her biggest tracks, such as Kamikaze, Lean On and Walk This Way, which sounded really great. The production of her tracks, including the backing vocals translated well into a live context and MØ’s energy performing couldn’t be faulted. Jumping around whipping around her iconic tied back hair, MØ gave it her all.
Although, I did find that due to the ambience of MØ’s music, it was a little harder to just straight up dance to. However, the fact that the crowd were clearly there to see Years & Years and were much less familiar with MØ’s music certainly didn’t nurture and retain the energy being put into the room from the Danish performer. It’s definitely made me want to see MØ at her own headline show to fully appreciate her performance.
Having achieved a lot of chart success, I was unsure of who the main demographic would be attending a Years & Years show. I was slightly surprised to see that a large proportion of the audience were young women, probably under the age of 17 for the most-part. In the modern normality of gig-going, this meant phone torches replacing lighters for softer moments in songs and a huge amount of photos and videos being taken opposed to lots of wild dancing. There was some dancing, but I really think that the performers on this bill would have shone more in a festival environment or somewhere with a lively and responsive crowd.
Years & Years brought in even more people to a full venue and the screaming of fans let the room know that the trio were very welcome to perform. Fronting the group, vocalist Olly Alexander brought the dance moves and on-stage attitude to liven up the group’s performance. There were die hard fans, but it’s only really when Years & Years started playing their huge hits such as King, Desire and Shine that a wall of mobile phones appeared, the room opened up to a little more movement from the crowd and a bra was thrown on-stage. When the bra was thrown on-stage, the openly gay vocalist replied with “I don’t have much experience of those”, once again championing his sexuality publicly.
Years & Years did their best to perform their tracks well and I think they did it successfully. As with most live events, it really is astounding how much lies in the responsiveness of an audience to shape the atmosphere at a show. I can see the group being a lot more fun to watch (if you’re not a young teenage girl) with a more varied audience. At the end of the day Years & Years have crafted some very catchy songs that are regularly played in clubs, so to catch them performing at a summer show with thousands of people would most-likely be a lot more fun.
One thing I do have to comment on though is definitely the lighting for the Years & Years performance. The lighting was very thought out and added a lot of production value to the whole experience. The lights ranged from flicking laser beams to a pulsing back wall lit up with the Years & Years artwork. I tip my hat to the lighting team, nice work.
Something which I was less fond on, was the pretend encore during the Years & Years set. The show ended at 22:35 and about 10 minutes prior to this, the lights and music got cut, and the whole crowd were seduced into demanding an encore. I’ve got no time for false theatrics featuring a fake encore, so the group could finish on time, having created the illusion of playing two more songs. I would have preferred it if they just played a couple more tracks and ended earlier.
It’s not a big deal though, so I’ll move on to something more pleasant.
A track which was performed during the ‘encore’ was one in which MØ came to perform with Years & Years. I thought that this performance was touching to watch. As mentioned earlier, MØ and Years & Years give the impression that they’re very good friends. Watching MØ and the Years & Years vocalist sing up-close in each other’s faces, made for an entertaining track. Their voices also compliment each other’s and hopefully we can hear some collaborations in the future.
Overall, it was a well put together bill with some good performances. I’d definitely recommend seeing Years & Years in another environment to fully appreciate their sound though. Perhaps even if the venue was more intimate it would have created a bit more liveliness.
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