Yeah Yeah Yeahs haven’t played in the UK for four years. So it’s good to have them back in Manchester on a short tour to promote their fourth album, ‘Mosquito’.
The New York trio kicks off the gig the same way the album begins, with the rousing, gospel-hewn return to form that is ‘Sacrilege’. The delectable Karen O is resplendent in a dazzlingly bright outfit comprising sun-yellow lederhosen and a flower-embroidered jacket encrusted with rhinestones. As a burst of confetti showers the stage it’s clear we’re in for a visceral as well as audible bonanza.
The second track immediately jumps back in time and Brian Chase bangs out the thumping bass charge of ‘Black Tongue’ from 2003's debut album ‘Fever to Tell’. The crowd loves, bouncing right the way through; and then we’re brought back into the present with the pile-driving percussion and screech of ‘Mosquito’.
It’s a genuine pleasure to watch three musicians who share an effortless musical communication, and moreover, who love to play. With the exception of guitarist Nick Zinner, who alternates between caustic guitar playing and programming on his synthesiser, the band beam with smiles throughout, revelling in their new material as well as their back catalogue greats.
They follow with standout track ‘Phenomena’ from second album ‘Show Your Bones’, then Karen O dons a miner’s headlamp and prances around the stage in the dark to the new, roots-reggae soaked, ‘Under The Earth’.
The new songs are generally lapped up by the audience. But the more delicate new material, such as the faint beauty of ‘Subway’ is tarnished by a disrespectful batch of attendees who squawk inanities whilst Zinner and O are forehead to forehead, trying to build an atmosphere around the song.
The ignorant few are thankfully drowned out as the band reverts to pounding brilliance with ‘Soft Shock’ from 2009's ‘It’s Blitz’ and the majestic ‘Gold Lion’. With a tinsel cape and fly-eye sunglasses, O brings the set to a close with a breathless and celebratory 'Heads Will Roll’, and the audience roars.
Soon they’re back on for a glorious version of ‘Maps’ and every mouth in the house is shouting “They don’t love you like I love you” back at them, before the night ends with the raucous ‘Date With The Night’. Let’s hope they don’t leave it another four years.
Words: Nick Rice
Photos: Danny Payne
Get the best of Clash on your iPhone - download the app here