Paul Samuels was always a big fan of YYN’s twangy guitar, skinny rib psychedelia and excellent lyrics. Here, he reviews one of their recent gigs.
Yeah Yeah Noh split in ’86 but have reformed. They’re not the first band to reform. While the usual reasons included Live Aid, Global Debt Pink Floyd Thingy, anniversary tours or the release of a sumptuous box set hand tooled by mermaids; YYN actually reformed for guitarist John Grayland’s birthday. He’d organised JohnFest to celebrate it and when the child friendly festival in Barmouth, (confirmed by Government stats to be an actual “Town full of Brummies”) was washed out by wet weather it moved indoors to the Hare and Hounds. (Confirmed by Camra to be a pub full of beer).
It was my youngest’s first gig and he naively asked which stadium it would be at. It’s a stadium where I used to go to a Pub Quiz.
I was always a big fan of YYN’s twangy guitar, skinny rib psychedelia and excellent lyrics. I liked the clattery odd pop of Bias Binding, the swirly suburban psychedelia of The Other Side of Mrs Quill (“Paid a visit to the other side of her living room”) to the full on pop of Sunday To Saturday. At the time they were frequently shambolic, sometimes more tuneful than their Garage Band/Fall influences would suggest and not afraid to chuck in a surf instrumental. The time off has down them some good. They’ve grown too. There are six of them now.
Prick Up Your Ears starts with just new drummer Ant getting down to rhythmic business and the rest of the band gradually filing on stage and building up the sound. Crucially bassist Dermot theatrically taking his shades out of the case and putting them on before he can play a note. He’s either blinded by the lights or Derek Hammonds Technicolor dream blazer.
Bias Binding is introduced as going from the “Sublime to the ridiculous or vice versa”. It’s a John Peel endorsed tune and home to some of the conversational snippets and bus stop conversational phrases that livened up the early YYN singles “University straight from nursery look at his fingernails”. The band amuse themselves with the “Bias Binding” backing vocals. I’m amused too!
I always liked the line in Temple Of Convenience “Eddie knows a bit about alienation”; it sits comfortably alongside other bits of odd pop earnestness that Sir might also like to consider. “Libraries gave us power” or “I am an architect” from the Manic Street Preachers. It’s got more bah bah bah bah backing vocals.
Another Side Of Mrs Quill is described as “One of John’s favourites….so please be favourable” and it’s exactly what made YYN such an intriguing prospect in the first place. This time round though (and it’s a lot to do with the drummer) they positively swing, There are 2 guitarists now, Johns harsh guitar is at the ball and cheesewire end of the sonic spectrum and Derek is singing better than ever.
The wonderful See through Nature is thoughtfully explained for the benefit and education of the younger members of the audience who may have detected drug references. As Derek explained the reason that the line “My life is nil, I just take pills” is not true “Because you know that the next line is “my name is Eugene”…and you KNOW that’s not true”
Up On The Downs is “first new track of the 21st century” It’s a really good piece of Beatles/Bryds stop start pop. (The band have form on this of course as they have previously covered She Said She Said) and it’s a good enough reason for the band to reform
Stealing In The Name of The Lord takes it’s title (and nothing else) from the Paul Kelly soul song but new keyboard player Eva adds Stonesy Sympathy for the Devil flourishes as the song spirals up towards cod gospel glory.
Big decisions for the audience as singer Derek struggles with the heat. Does the splendid Technicolor blazer stay on or come off? Let the audience decide. “Disrobe” or “Keep it on.” It’s a chant that’s sweeping the nation, or at least the part of the nation in a strip club or on a stag night.
Final song Blood Soup is a churning queasy affair. Dermot takes his shades off (as if to say “That’s enough Rockin’ for tonight”). There’s no encore because it’s time to bring on Johns birthday cake, sing happy Birthday and then…speech time. You don’t get that at New Order or Wedding Present gigs……You just don’t get an encore
YYN are doing a Marc Riley session in September and a John Peel all day festival in Manchester on 27th Oct. These are good things.
Prick Up Your Ears
Temple Of Convenience
Another Side To Mrs Quill
See Through Nature
Up On The Downs
Stealing In The Name Of The Lord