Years & years – Manchester O2 Apollo – 02/04/16
Tonight a sold out Manchester Apollo eagerly awaits to greet the three kings of British synthpop back in to their city with open arms. After a hugely successful year in 2015 touring in support of their no.1 debut album ‘Communion’, tickets were snapped up in no time for this enticingly huge UK tour.
To get the crowd practicing their dance moves, Danish singer MØ (7) is tonight’s main support. She hits the stage with swagger and glides around dancing throughout her set, giving the Years & Years front-man a high bar to jump when he follows later. Her short set is crammed with tracks from her debut album ‘No Mythologies To Follow’, which is perfectly suited to open for Years & Years with it’s infectious hypnotic dance tracks. Her super hit collaboration with Major Lazer & DJ Snake for ‘Lean On’ closes her set and has the whole crowd singing and dancing along without any encouragement.
After a short break, Years & Years (9) are ready to get the party started. The darkness surrounding the stage is broken with glowing red lasers beaming down from the roof, as bass guitarist Mikey Goldsworthy and keyboardist Emre Türkmen kick off the show with ‘Foundation’, which front-man Olly Alexander soon follows center stage under a glowing spotlight to deafening screams.
The fantastic ‘Take Shelter’ and ‘Border’ soon follow with the front-man busting out some interesting dance moves on stage, making full use of all space available. A steady start to the show eases the crowd in the mood, and as soon as the beat to the dazzling ‘Shine’ thumps out loud, the show steps up a level as everyone can’t help but get involved. Olly Alexander continues to dance around the stage with a rainbow flag thrown from the crowd, before an explosive breakdown leaves the room shining with silver confetti falling from the sky for one final rowdy chorus.
A fan catches Olly’s eye in the crowd waving a sign to sit with him through his favorite song ‘Eyes Shut’. Olly being the impeccably nice guy he is can’t say no and pulls him up on stage to sit with through a thoroughly moving performance, and even poses for a quick selfie on stage before the fan heads back into the crowd.
It’s worth pointing out that the visuals throughout the show tonight have been incredible. A giant multicolored glowing puzzle with the trademark ‘Y’
hidden in the center represents the ‘Communion’ album cover, backed up by some stunning flashing lights of all colours, keeps everything entertaining to watch. Further more and more importantly, the band and backing vocalists have been perfect, and Olly’s vocals have also been pinpoint on form through every single song in the set.
With only one album released, Year & Years have a few gaps to fill in their set list. Luckily for us those gaps are filled with some fantastic new material and covers. ‘See Me Now’ sounds fresh, upbeat and is faster moving in comparison to the previous songs in the set. It’s easy for the crowd to dance along to and we can see it being a big hit in the near future. ‘I Want To Love’ which surfaced towards the end of last year also features with it’s electric dance beat guiding the front-man and the crowd through another track worthy of some groovy dancing. With songs like this still in the works the future looks blindingly bright for years and years.
Another gap in the set is filled with their impressive BBCR1 live lounge mash up of Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ and Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’, which they make their own as they slow it down jumping between the verse of ‘Dark Horse and the chorus of ‘Cell Phone’ which works surprisingly well.
The magnificent ‘Desire’ creates the highlight of the night with a mind-blowing performance from Years & Years, backed by the loudest bit of crowd participation of the night before they leave the stage to almighty roars. The anticipated encore closes the night with another cover, this time of Brandy & Monica’s 1998 super hit ‘Boy is Mine’, which Olly is joined by support act MØ. They bounce the vocals back and forth between them confidently as they have a little dance off center stage, which everyone had wanted to see all night after some impressive, yet questionable dance moves from the pair in their own sets respectively.
As you would expect, it’s the fan favorite ‘King’ which closes the night off in perfect style. The atmosphere bursts through the Apollo roof as the infectious chorus rings out through the room whilst an eruption of streamers blasts through the air, leaving everyone fighting off multicolored strips of paper as they leave the venue grinning away contentedly.
An overall fantastic show from Years & Years at their very best. With thoroughly entertaining and polished live performances like this, aside an album of feel good synthpop anthems, this band are destined for big things. We can only see them being crowned kings of the world of Pop.
Photography – Danny Peart Photography