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Yard Act, Manchester Apollo. 16th March 2024

The rooms keep getting bigger for Yard Act. It doesn’t seem five minutes ago that I was watching them in venues like Yes and The White Hotel. This is all thanks to the massive debut hit record that’s made them bonafide post punk indie stars. Slam the breaks on there though, for this Leeds outfit aren’t interested in being pigeonholed and to make sure that doesn’t happen, album two is a shape shifting genre melting slab that demands you pay attention. The Overload take two it is not. Now you’re bound to upset some of the fair weather lot with such a curve ball, but The Apollo is still full tonight and from what I witness, they love Where’s My Utopia? James seems impressed declaring an improving “fucking hell” as he surveys the crowd and things get going with ‘An Illusion’. It’s a soft start, but they look at ease on a bigger stage with extra keyboards and backing singers to boot. It gives everyone more space to move on ‘Dead Horse’ too. Which is more than I can say in the crowd as more and more people push forward. James suggesting we “Look after each other yeah” being slightly ignored. ‘When the Laughter Stops’ is a bouncy bastard too and sees the two backing singers take to the front, skanking around with maracas and tambourines. It’s the perfect visual for the amount of energy they kick out and the confidence that flows from each and every member. To say ‘We Make Hits’ goes down well is an exercise in understatement. We’re in full on banger territory and although we’re only just getting going, they’ve got The Apollo in the palm of their hand. No mean feat with a crowd this size. ‘Pour Another’ gets a make over with the added piano giving it a honky tonk vibe, before that shouty chorus goes off and the crowd holler every word back. It’s utter carnage as pint pots fly and limbs flail. ‘Grifters Grief’ mercifully slows things down in the crowd, which I’ll admit at this point is getting uncomfortable, but it’s impossible to move so I stick where I am. ‘Fuzzy Fish’ sounds ace live. It’s an odd track with its hip hop backbone, angular riffs and the lad behind the keyboards has grabbed a saxophone. It’s a glorious cacophony, unconventional, probably why I love it. A punter then comes on the stage to spin a game show wheel in order to select the next song ‘Fixer Upper’ which is nice way to get a bit of audience participation. Well spun Ewan! It sounds amazing as always, with added sax, like a lot of the older songs. The crowdsurfing begins, beer is split, but thankfully not on me. The pit is primed and goes mental for ‘Witness (Can I Get A)’ with Sam legging it up and down the stage without missing a note. There’s the usual shout out to Graham tonight, but there’s also a new bloke on the scene with Dean on ‘Down by the Stream’. These new songs have a massive sound, they sound kinda shambolic, but still tight as fuck. That might not make much sense written down, but it does when you’re in the room with them. ‘Dream Job’ is a party banger, full of funk and bluster. Prince would be happy with it. It’s amazing how much the live sound has grown. ‘Payday’ sounds supercharged and whoever mic’ed up the drum kit knew what they were doing, Jay sounds like he’s grown extra arms. ‘The Overload’ has always been faster live than its recorded counterpart but how James keeps the lyrics flowing at that pace is impressive. Forget the post prefix it’s pure punk. ‘A Vineyard for the North’ is a much more mature sound which might sound a bit wanky but it’s really not. It’s a come down sort of song and perfect to finish a set, especially as it builds to its dance floor banger crescendo. It’s not the end though of course, they’re now big enough to indulge in the farce of a break for an encore and return with ‘100% Endurance’. It’s a nice way to ease back in and feels perfect for the hour. You could sway to it, should you wish to. Some people are, but I suspect it might be down to something else other than this beautiful song. The support acts are brought on for ‘The Trench Coat Museum’ and it goes bonkers. Choreographed Thriller-esque dance moves. The beats kick in and Sam shreds over the top. It’s like the DJ putting on their favourite track at the end of the night to go out with a bang and bang it does. It’s another example of a song that really comes alive tonight and heralds this new big room era of Yard Act even more exciting than the first. “TRENCH COAT! TRENCH COAT! TRENCH COAT!!”.


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