Well it’s really been a while since I did a concert review so excuse me as I am feeling a little rusty.
I woke up Saturday morning to a very sore throat and panic as the realization hit me that I may miss the long-awaited I’ll Be Your Mirror festival curated by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Luckily after some serious sleeping and medication I pulled myself away from my bed and headed to the mansion on a hill that is Alexandra Palace.
Taking the bus up the hill, I couldn’t help but smile as I was greeted by a most perfect sunset of fluorescent pink and purple light exploding through the cracks of the clouds – a strange mirror of the extreme colours of the new album cover just released last month Mosquito.
Enter Palace, past the massive palm trees that are planted INSIDE and survive due to the glass ceilings and to the front of the stage I go awaiting for the start of the show.
And a show it was. The crowds tighten up, the lights dim, and the atmosphere builds and then screams as the three YYY lighten up on the backboard. Karen – O enters the stage glittering from head to toe. She looks like a shiny Elvis/wizard of Oz inspired monkey/mad hatter creature. Sparkly top hat, sparkly eyes, massive glasses, sparkly jacket, sparkly western style pants and then some black wings attached to her back. All you can do is look at her. Which is fine to the rather shy Brian Chase and Nick Zinner clad in black from head to toe.
They open with the new single Sacrilege and although I’m ecstatic at the sound of this brilliant single live – however I just can’t help but be disappointed at the lack of a gospel choir breaking onto stage to accompany the chorus. Oh well next time. Karen –O’s voice quality makes up for it just fine, with major diversity from almost shrill cutting sounds to beautifully ballad delivery, she does it all. Although to my taste sometimes a tiny bit too soft (dear Mr sound engineer pump her volume up!).
That led us right into Karen’s first spitting water into the air (her new favourite trick which she repeated several times) and then changing glasses into Mosquito-inspired one to naturally get into Mosquito the one song I do not enjoy on the album but had its place live. The shrillness was subdued and it served the purpose of mood setting. The costume changes continued throughout the show, hat off, wings off, famous-personally-tailored-leather-jacket on which at the end was swapped for a red cape. Karen really looked like a character from a rodeo – I was just waiting for her to rip her what seemed like strip pants off – but alas not.
The show was a good mix of light and shade, with some slower songs (Despair) and some good old upbeats crowd jumpers (Bang, Zero, Y Control, Miles Away) and whatever you want to call Soft Shock (just brilliance of a song). The light and shade was taken to the literate sense for Under The Earth (my favourite from the new album) where the lights dimmed down and Karen sported a head lights which she used to discover the crowd.
We had more than just the songs to keep us entertained – there was also a giant eye ball bouncing around which the crowd adored and caused massive booing when it was confiscated from us after nearly taking out the drummer. As well as occasionally canons of Y shapped glitter. And of course with the luxury of being at the front of the crowd: massive mosh pit activity, feet stomping, song shouting, survival clinging, crowd surfing disasters and drunken girls singing to the wrong song. I love concerts in London.
All of this came to a necessary fake end on Heads Will Roll (another favourite). But of course the crowd screamed for more. And back on they came with the famous Maps while everyone sang along. And then their favourite close Date with the Night from their very first album.
Karen ended the show using the mike first to pull across her throat, then using it as a sword to puncture her heart and then finally several rounds of her spinning above her head (the rodeo western feel continues) and banging it across the stage. A quite literal bang to a show.
And finally with Brian’s 5 second of fame as he got off his drum set and shyly bowed down with his long wavy hair at the audience and Nick took a couple of photos of the audience.
And that was that. The wizard of Oz journey had ended and instead of some ruby shoes all we had left was some sparkly Y glitter.