Review + Photography by Adriana Vasile

MADNESS! I’m sure everyone expected this to be a wild party under the O2 Academy Brixton’s roof tonight and they were ready for it from before reaching the venue doors. I arrived a bit early only to find out that people waiting outside were already warming up their voices, singing along to choruses of both Yungblud and classic British tunes. You could easily forget all about the cold and rain outside, as their presence was fading away to the excitement and restlessness that were filling the air.

YungBlud (11)

First on stage was BRYN, getting the crowd jumping along catchy choruses about the rebel party-inclined generation of millennials.

Bryn (2)

Bryn (3)

Saint Phnx changed the rhythm, taking over the stage with a more melodic sound and bursting with energy. The stage wasn’t big enough for these guys: Stevie grabbed everyone’s attention and didn’t let go for the entire set. He was sending the mic flying in the air, playing with the stand and pulling Michael Jackson inspired moves, while Al couldn’t contain himself, hitting the drums as loud as humanly possible. Try to imagine The Script becoming a rock band overnight… you’d still have the soulful lyrics worthy of emotional singalongs, however accompanied by the blaring drums and being sung with ardour and truly invigorating energy!

Saint Phnx (3)

Saint Phnx (1)

After a well-deserved break, it was time for the main course. A strange helicopter sound and muffled pilot voices anticipate the approach of tonight’s headliner. A projection of ‘YUNGBLUD’ on the white curtain gets the crowd screaming in anticipating of the mayhem to come. In a split second the curtain drops and Yungblud comes in as a hurricane, whizzing from one corner of the stage to the other.

‘Are you all feeling rowdy?’ allows the crowd to give him a warm welcome while he takes a moment to catch his breath. After a confession of absolute love for the fans and an inciting speech about how everyone in the room is a family, he’s ready to party again, accompanied by piercing drums. I could feel them in my chest and frankly it was hard to say if the venue was shaking from the decibels or from the crowd jumping to the beat, as if they were competing with the drummer.

YungBlud (3)

YungBlud (10)

‘Brixton, I want you to put your hands up!’ and up they went in a heartbeat. How could they not when Yungblud’s effervescence was contagious. The lyrics are resonating with the fans, putting their thoughts about the society into words better than they themselves could ever do. Skilfully mixing metaphors and plain words, he talks about modern world youth struggles of dealing with mental health, societal norms, finding themselves and ultimately their place in this crazy world still haunted and encumbered by aged ideas of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ coming from an older, outdated generation. However, his satirical attitude presents these dark themes in a different light, which (hopefully) inspires his fans to look at these issues more light-heartedly and with confidence in themselves and each other that they can and will overcome every impediment.

After each song the crowd explodes in loud cheers and reciprocates his appreciation for each and every one of his fans there tonight. From the back of the room I can see his large smile, which still feels too small to express how overwhelmed and happy he is to be here, now, together with everyone. His energy and, dare I say, positivity is infectious!

YungBlud (12)

YungBlud (14)

‘Do you know what song I’m talking about?’ Showing what used to be the ‘Loser’ sign creates an immediate uproar – fans recognised the new meaning of that sign and consequently the next banger. ‘Can you all sing the chorus by yourselves?’ – Challenge accepted as everyone starts singing as one.

He came down into the crowd and from the back in the spotlight I could only see two hands moving frenetically, demanding some space. ‘Are you going to raise your voices for me tonight? ‘ asks he before starting to play ‘Kill Somebody’ while surrounded by phone lights coming from raised hands. After an emotional moment of him, his guitar and the fan’s voices, the drums come in, the golden stage lights flash back on and the madness is back! ‘Louder! I want you to lose your voices!’

YungBlud (16)

YungBlud (18)

He disappears backstage, leaving the fans in the company of the drummer’s meteoric solo, bathed in the spotlight, only to return on stage in a… skirt – and yes, he kept the pink socks on. ‘Have you got any energy left, baby?’

After playing a couple of songs featuring other artists (including MGK to my own delight), another acoustic moment comes with ‘Casual Sabotage’, a song he confesses is very important to him before recognising how important his fan’s support has been for him all along.’ You are my family, man!’

YungBlud (20)

YungBlud (19)

Continuing down the heartfelt songs path, he introduces his former manager from the guitar shop he worked in – the man who encouraged him to try again and again and follow his dream. They perform an acoustic version of ‘Waiting on the Weekend’ together. It was refreshing and touching to see a new dimension of his voice, a calming moment after the tumultuous storm he’s released so far on stage.

‘California’ brings the madness back, continued and intensified by ‘Braindead’ and ‘Underrated youth’.

YungBlud (21)

YungBlud (22)

‘Machine Gun’ is the last song and quite fitting, the grand finale features blinding lights, confetti and flames rising on the back of the stage.

Overall, this was an amazing show and certainly a memorable one too. With a wild, ‘preposterous’ attitude, he gives voice to a powerful message through crazy fun lyrics and accompanied by heavy drums, he encourages acceptance, love and togetherness. I can only hope his message manages to pierce through to every person, young or old alike, in need of support. More importantly I hope it shines through and is perceived as intended, creating a healthy approach to life, despite (or maybe ‘thanks to’?) the ludicrous style Yungblud puts forward.

YungBlud (24)

See the full photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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