It’s a hot summer’s night in the desert. Fluorescent American Apparel apparel surrounds your eyes. Grown men are playing imaginary bass guitars as they dance. The DJ drops a record by Japan. The crowd lap it up. It’s the syndrums. The deranged synth noises. The bizarre percussion. It’s that kind of night. Sweaty, gyrating bodies. Tune after tune of disconcerting warpiness. Did the DJ just play Tears For Fears? Something from -The Hurting’? No, it’s too psychedelic to be Tears for Fears. What’s that R&B tune? Does he really sing like that or is it a robot? Has someone spiked my drink? What are all these trippy colours? Is that supposed to sound like that or is it just my brain?
It’s not a hot summer’s night in the desert. It’s a cold arse-end of winter night in Dublin. There are four large panels positioned at the back of the stage and three podiums at the front. The band stand in between, their yeasaying faces in relative darkness while the panels and podiums light up in euphoric dayglo colours. The opening number, -The Children’ is disconcerting and warpy with its heavily-effected distorted vocals. Not the obvious way to open a show, being as it is a song that never quite kicks in the way you hope it will. And half the time, the songs don’t quite reach their desired destination, ending up sounding rather like polished Japan b-sides. When it works, however, Yeasayer are right on the money. Tracks like ‘O.N.E.’ and ‘Ambling Alp’ do indeed summon up that all-night desert rave ecstasy which it seems they’re reaching for.
Because their latest album, Odd Blood is such a diversion from All Hour Cymbals, it was always going to be interesting how old material would sit aside the new stuff. And the good news is that it’s a seamless fit. In fact, the old songs (perfectly fine as they were) sound revitalised in these new reworked versions. -Wait for the Summer ‘ with its Eastern tinges goes down particularly well – the folky aspects of the recorded version having been replaced with an 80’s spikeyness.
The night segues into morning. Bodies lay in the sand – some dazed with tiredness, some just overwhelmed, some in extreme states of bliss. It seems like it’s all over but the DJ puts on a tune to match the mood. It’s called -Sunrise’ and is by a band called Yeasayer. It’s one of those priceless moments, when a beautiful natural occurrence is accompanied by the perfect musical soundtrack. You can’t possibly follow that, can you? How do you follow up perfection? With -2080′? Okay. This is working for me.
And that-s how the night ended in Dublin (well, it was 10.30pm). A tremendous rendition of -Sunrise’ followed by a magnificent -2080′ and a room filled with smiles. Yeasayer feel like a band on their way to greatness, if only they could discard the filler material in their repertoire.
Photos by Damien McGlynn.