Review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Shepherds Bush Empire, April 26th.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Shepherds Bush Empire by musicmule.co.uk

mp3: Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll

A friend wisely pointed out to me that Yeah Yeah Yeahs are quite unique in that they are band that can be appreciated by fans across almost all genres (save maybe doo-wop fans, it’s inexplicable but those guys hate them!). Whether you’re an indie, rock, dance, dub, hip-hop, jazz, electro, emo, prog (the list goes on) fan then there’s some level you can appreciate this great band on. Whether it’s for the emotionally charged lyrical performance and stage presence of one of the best front ladies in the business, Karen-O, the jazz influenced drumming of king of the sticks, Brian Chase or trademark raw guitar, newly added disco riff and keyboards of Nick Zinner, there is something for all to admire. A different kettle of fish musically but perhaps The Arcade Fire is the other recent band that can lay claim to such an achievement?

Tonight Karen-O and co play their second sold out night at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire to the most pumped up Sunday night crowd I’ve seen in a while. As if the band weren’t streets ahead of most with music alone, with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs you get a whole lot of visual entertainment thrown in for your not inconsiderable, but worth every penny, £20 ticket. Karen-O as ever is dressed spectacularly in an array of homemade, bright, shimmering outfits that are on rotation throughout the night.  The highlight being an intricately decorated, hooded, blue and white judo suit/cape garment beneath which she hides, hands and mic held imperiously above her head. Then there’s the giant eye from the ‘Zero’ artwork suspended above Brian’s drum kit at the back of the stage which is later to be spun around and used as a giant projection screen for all manner of marbled, psychedelic patterns until it’s eventual transformation into a moon. Throw (or fire as it may be here) in a lot of twinkling confetti and sensory overload levels are approaching!

Yeah Yeah Yeah's giant eye @ Shepherds Bush Empire by musicmule.co.uk

Then there are the songs themselves. A pretty even spread of tracks spanning their three (near perfect?) albums, ‘Fever To Tell’, ‘Show Your Bones’ and the recently released ‘It’s Blitz!’. Favourite singles dished up and in need of no introduction on the night were ‘Gold Lion’, ‘Y-Control’, their latest effort ‘Zero’ and up there with best track they have written and best track of the evening, the impeccable ‘Cheated Hearts’ with it’s epic sing-along chorus of ‘Well I’m taka, taka, taka, taka, taking it off’ and ‘I think I’m bigger than the sound’. Another contender for tune of the night is ‘Black Tongue’ with it’s signature line ‘just let it be your Yeah Yeah Yeah’ proving a satisfying call to arms for the band’s army of fans. It’s spine tingling, adrenaline pumping stuff.

As testament to their versatility the band are just as comfy performing their two slowest numbers, new track ‘Skeletons’ with it’s epic, almost Star Spangled Banner esque, soaring guitar line reaching euphoric levels as another onslaught of confetti falls from the high ceilings catching the multi-coloured light as it falls. The track serves as an excellent pre-cursor for what’s to come later in the form of Karen-O’s self confessed ‘Yeah Yeah Yeah’s love song’, the haunting ‘Maps’, in which her beautiful vocals make sure there’s barely a dry eye in the house even amongst the burliest looking of fans.

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The beauty of Yeah Yeah Yeahs is that where other bands put a couple of good, single worthy tracks on an album, these guys put twelve. So it’s no surprise that further treats on the night come in the shape of ‘It’s Blitz’ album tracks, the massive sounding ‘Heads Will Roll’ and the stunning ‘Soft Shock’, which shows the band have firmly got a grip on their chosen disco direction.

As the band extend their gratitude to the crowd and leave the stage to rapturous applause there seems no doubt that an encore will ensue but the question is more what will we hear? Unfortunately there’s no place tonight for one of my personal favourites ‘Turn Into’ but as we’ve already been treated to a blistering rendition of ‘Date With The Night’ this is a small downer on what has been a tantalising return from one of today’s greatest bands. Long live the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

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