Returning to Manchester with two sell-out shows at the O2Apollo, British trio, Years and Years, graced the city with their long overdue presence. Now boasting two pop-perfect albums, it’s time for their debut Communion to hand the baton over to Palo Santo.

Releasing Communion back in 2015, bursting at the seams with tracks you can’t help but bop your head along to, Palo Santo feels almost as if a coming-of-age album. Opening the gig with Sanctify,’ the sultry and moody lyrics capture the crowds at an instant; their gaze fixated on frontman, Olly Alexander. A sea of phones wave around in the air all trying to capture the theatrical entrance.

The ambient sultry mood doesn’t last for long. Plunging in at the deep end, the band catapult into feel-good chart-topper ‘Shine’- with an audience of all ages dancing and singing to their hearts content with nearby strangers; all sharingthe same delight. The performance is huge, laced with glitter, with asprinkling of superb electronic instruments- all a promising start to the set.

It’s not long before all of the theatricals become irrelevant. Olly Alexander takes his pew at the piano and belts out the ballad ‘Eyes Shut’ alongside a few thousand others. His vocals are raw and relatable, with each emotion hanging on to every note. His unique voice takes the crowd through ups and downs, twists and turns, and a lyrical journey of his experiences; his messages certainly admirable.

A front man who can do both, Olly is soon back skipping across the stage to ‘Gold’, humbly acknowledging fans on the front rows who he recognises from previous shows. In-between songs, he accepts a LGBT flag and proudly dons it as a cape amongstall other vibrant costume changes.

The backing singers take centre stage too with a cover; filling time for Olly’s strikingly colourful costume changes. It’s an interesting mash-up of Ariana’s No Tears Left to Cry’ and Madonna’s ‘’Like a Prayer,’ but it works incredibly well in uniting the broad spectrum ofaudience ages and exposing the stunning vocals of the singers.

Filling their set with their signature songs from their debut and second album, the band bowed out on their smash-hits of 2018, also giving the audience a live edition of the latest collaboration with Jax Jones: ‘Play’.

And of course, they couldn’t leave without one last song. As the first notes of ‘King’ played out strangers united for one last dance; creating a truly beautiful atmosphere that will radiate in everybody’s memory forever. 

Abi White

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