Yeah Yeah Yeahs - O2 Academy Leeds - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - O2 Academy Leeds

by Rich Morris Rating:10 Release Date:2013-03-04

Greeting us with a piercing screech of "Thursday night Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeds!", Karen O (sounding, as my gig-wife correctly surmises, "like a chainsaw in woman form"), owns the stage from the moment her band kick up the drawn-out intro to first song, 'Cheated Hearts'. With her red suit, tasselled jacket, fluffy platinum blonde do and balls-in-a-vice singing style, Karen seems to be morphing into an oestrogen-pumped mutant hybrid of Elvis and Mötley Crüe's Vince Neil. Which is a good thing.

The whole gig tonight is a testament to the Divine Ms O's extraordinary powers of showmanship. She's an expert at forming a matey connection with the front rows while telegraphing an emotion all the way to the back of the venue. What's more, you sense she's had this thing down pat since the moment she first stepped on to a stage.

Tonight, it's O's performance more than the music which really holds everything together. Not that the music isn't fine, but Yeah Yeah Yeahs, four album's in to their career, are still adorably scrappy-sounding at times. During an otherwise storming 'Heads Will Roll', the rhythm audibly wobbles, but Karen holds our focus with some goofy knock-kneed dancing and an unexpected volley of glitter. After this, she straps on a headlight, crawls across the stage and does a silly-yet-still-completely-cool dance routine to the dub-tastic 'Under the Earth', new album Mosquito's standout track.

All the showmanship in the world, however, can't stop 'Skeletons' sounding like 'Mull of Kinfuckingtyre', which it still does despite the welcome addition of some sci-fi synth. Thankfully, after this lull we're treated to an always welcome rendition of 'Maps', a hard-rocking 'Gold Lion' and the gorgeous 'Turn Into' with its breathtaking screechy-wibbly guitar solo. "Mr Nick Zinner, ladies and gentlemen!", yells Karen O before nipping backstage to get her leather on for the exquisite Moroder throb of 'Zero'. It's pure showbiz among the punk, and it works so well.

But the best is yet to come. During a frenzied encore of 'Date With the Night', the band do something so utterly brilliant yet so simple, you wonder why you haven't seen it anywhere before. Truncating the song early, the three figures onstage hold their perfect rock star poses while the crowd claps and whoops, screams and hollers. It goes on for a long time. Under the stage lights, the three remain ridged. Finally the cheering dies down and they launch full-force into the rest of the song, an explosion of action and noise. No glitter required. It's a gimmick, sure, but in terms of putting on a show, it's up there with James Brown and and his fake collapsing.

As Zinner warps and tortures his feedback, Karen fellates her mic, whips it round her head, then repeatedly smashes it into the stage until it shatters. There's nowhere left to go after this. The band exit. Gig over. Wow.


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