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Music

Yeah Yeah Yeahs make spectacular return to Manchester after a nine-year absence

@josephtaysom
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Manchester O2 Apollo
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Last week, Yeah Yeah Yeahs announced their comeback with their spectacular new single ‘Spitting Off The Edge Of The Earth’. It marks the group’s first release since 2013’s Mosquito, and on Sunday evening, the New Yorkers performed it in Europe for the first time.

Their show at Manchester’s O2 Apollo was the first time they’ve played a headline concert in the UK for nine years, and Karen O and co. made up for the lost time. In fact, it was only their second show since the pandemic and the first one of real magnitude, with only 600 in attendance for their warm-up at Los Angeles’ Taragron Ballroom last week.

Thankfully, there were no signs the group lacked sharpness on stage, and the re-energised Yeah Yeah Yeahs looked like they’d never been away. Unlike their shows in 2018 and 2019, the trio were also armed with new material, which seemingly gave them even more vigour.

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After support from the Leeds indie band, English Teacher, Yeah Yeah Yeahs made their way on-stage to the packed auditorium just after 9:15pm, and the mere sight of Karen O caused hysteria to break out.

They began the show with their opulent new single, ‘Spitting Off The Edge Of The Earth’, which sounded even more luxurious live. While it would have been extraordinary for Perfume Genius to have joined them for his verse, the crowd were already spoiled enough.

Throughout their set, Yeah Yeah Yeahs scattered new tracks from their forthcoming fifth album, Cool It Down, which included a live debut of ‘Wolf’. They also premiered ‘Blacktop’ and the particularly riveting ‘Burning’. While these moments may have been comparative lulls in the set because the crowd hadn’t previously heard the tracks, nobody lost interest, and everyone was united in intrigue as Karen O waltzed around the stage.

With most bands, flocks of the crowd would disappear for a beer or the toilet during these quieter moments, but everyone’s eyes remained glued to the stage intently. Judging from last night, the next chapter of Yeah Yeah Yeahs looks set to be an illuminating one.

Although the new tracks were impressive, everything else pales into insignificance when you’ve got an album as loved as Fever To Tell in your canon. O dedicated ‘Maps’ to her late father-in-law, who was from Stockport, met with a loud cheer from the proud local crowd. She then delivered arguably the most gorgeously tender performance I’ve ever witnessed as the theatre sang in unison. 

The New Yorkers then exhibited the other, grittier side to their persona by bursting into the raucous ‘Y Control’ followed by the ultimate floor filler and Project X throwback, ‘Heads Will Roll’. 

For their encore, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs rolled back the years by revisiting their sophomore album with ‘Honeybear’ before finishing things in explosive style with an extended version of ‘Date With The Night,’ which is untoppable.

Perhaps it’s because they work at a relaxed rate but despite all the adulation they receive, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, are still somehow incredibly underrated. The band’s output has aged better than contemporaries like The Strokes, and their back catalogue coalesces with the star quality emitted by O is an irresistible delight.