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Thursday, 6 December 2018

A View From The Back Of The Room: You Me At Six (Live Review By Alex)

You Me At Six, Marmozets & Xcerts, Cardiff Students Union

You Me At Six have grown up musically, which adds up as their audience have as well. Taking a quick look around Cardiff University Students Union, the fans are mostly young adults, and likely the same people who fell in love with the band upon the release of their critically acclaimed debut, Take Off Your Colours. As adored as that album is though, there’s only so many times one group of musicians can sing about petty relationship drama while lacing their lyrics with not so subtle innuendo, before they outgrow the look. I personally switched off shortly after that debut and haven’t really thought about Josh Franceschi and co. much since. I am pleased to say that on the show today, is a far more refined, matured YMAS, playing a style of Indy, which while still bearing the marks of late-era pop punk is not bratty or teenage, but rather memorable and inspired.

New and upcoming act the Xcerts (7) are an enjoyable opener. Their bright and danceable style of Indy-pop proving rather infectious, as the colorful keyboard work complements the equally vivid guitar melodies. Standing out most though is vocalist Murray Macleod’s part confident and part pretty, audience interaction between songs. ‘We have a new record out called, Hold On To Your Heart, who has heard it?’ he shouts at one point before singling out a group of people on their phones, asking ‘have the people your texting heard it?’ To be fair though, seeing people actively taking a lack of interest in your set can't be appealing, and the rock world is no stranger to smug arrogance. While his demeanor is somewhat more meaningful than joking, it does not detract massively from my enjoyment of the fast and uplifting music

Next up to impress is Marmozets (9) and I do mean Impress. Their particular style of traditional hard rock, mixed with Riot Grrrl Punk, is only enjoyed by a certain subset of the crowd tonight, probably owing to the somewhat strange lineup. Yet their ferocious performance undoubtedly wins over some people tonight. One concertgoer behind me expresses to their friend, a distaste for the main support act beforehand, yet gushes glowing praise after the end of the last song. Pooling mostly from their new album, Knowing what you know Now, Becca Macintyre’s entire performance is commanding and brave, as are those of the rest of the band. My initial reaction is that they would prove an extremely difficult act to follow, especially given my relationship with each of the bands performing tonight. Little did I know, next up was my turn to be pleasantly surprised!

Let me be clear, as much as I may kid, I have no resentment towards You Me At Six (8) none. They can certainly play, have kept playing despite not exactly gathering many new fans over the years, and even their amateurish debut was decent for an introductory release. Even more so, the dancing and singing they inspire from the crowd is a pleasant sight indeed. From old favorites – Loverboy, Stay With Me, Save It For The Bedroom – to newer songs – Cold Night, Straight To My Head, Night People – our collected voices climb above the blaring amplifiers to create a chorus of excited fans. Franceschi confesses that he is struggling to sing tonight, and is visibly overjoyed to see the audience helping him out at every opportunity. Clearly feeding off the energy in the room the band play and perform as if this is their first time having the privilege of performing for the Welsh. They do however make clear their love for playing here, our frontman reeling off a list of venues that he has enjoyed playing before - Newport Centre, Brangwyn Hall, TJ’s - before proudly reminding everyone that he is, in fact, half Welsh himself.

Finishing on Underdog, there is seemingly a competition of how much crowd surfing can there be in five minutes, adding to the fun in the room, at least for those of us who aren't crushed. Overall, I am incredibly surprised at how much I enjoyed You Me At Six, given my years of overlooking them. While I’m perfectly aware that this may say more about me than anyone, it’s a great experience to rediscover a band in a live setting, finding that they've matured and grown as musicians.

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