Live Review: Yungblud - O2 Institute, Birmingham - 12/03/2019
“It’s reeet good being home!” – Dominic Harrison (a.k.a. Yungblud).
The Yorkshire lad, Yungblud, has returned to the UK shores after a successful trip stateside where he has recently collaborated with Halsey and Blink-182’s Travis Barker on the melancholic pop song “11 minutes”, and to welcome his return was a vehemently overwhelming crowd at Birmingham’s O2 Institute2.
Before the “voice of the youth” took to the stage, America’s Carlie Hanson did a tremendous job of psyching the crowd up. If you're going to be opening for someone as manic as Yungblud then you need to “bring it” - and that she did! Her lyrics were personal but relatable and her vocals were clear and powerful. She brought some of that American confidence and flair with her which you just couldn’t ignore. She manages to get the entire crowd involved and participating in waving their arms in sync with her and evokes a back and forth of Freddie Mercury inspired Oh's and Way-Oh's. She instantly came across as someone you wanted to get to know better because she just exudes a rebellious but fun nature.
After Carlie Hanson leaves the stage, the adrenaline fuelled vibe in the room is palpable as the lights dim and a spoken word voice over travels the airwaves which hushes the crowd before Yungblud bounds out onto the stage. Launching into some of his best known tracks “21st Century Liability”, “I Love You Will You Marry Me” (a social commentary to the Park Hill Bridge story) and the politically charged punk anthem that started it all “King Charles”, throughout all of these Yungblud barely stands still. With multiple jumps and scissor kicks, he covers the stage from one end to the other none stop, well, except to plant a kiss on Adam Warrington, his guitarist (just how many kisses have those two exchanged I wonder?).
With every move that Dom makes the crowds response is a combination of moshing and/or cheering. The security had to keep on their toes throughout the night as people had to be pulled out the crowd with a number of fans fainting. I've seen Yungblud a number of times now and each time the crowd is in awe of him. His stage presence is unreal. His song “Polygraph Eyes” set a more serious tone as he sings about a man taking advantage of a girl in a vulnerable state. For me, this song is what cemented my love of the band, Dom's ability to tackle the flaws in our society and to bring them to the attention of the young, to stand up and have the confidence to say if something is not OK in the world. He is observant and passionate, of not only his future but the future of each and every listener of his music.
While I could talk about each of the songs played out tonight, I fear I might lose some of the readers, so I will dive into the best bits.
As the night progressed the set continued to maintain this high octane, manic euphoria. We were introduced to a new song called “Ice Cream Man” which didn't disappoint, it was an instant crowd pleaser and had some great bass lines which of course made it easy for the crowd to keep moshing. After the song “Medication”, which was another exceptional sing along sesh (notable lyric: You put in my mouth, I'm going to bite down”), there was a brief interlude which was basically an excuse for Dom and Adam to run back and forth across the stage, queue more jumps and kicks and screams and cheers. Back in January, Yungblud released a new song called “Loner”. He asks the crowd to name the song and then gets them to sing the chorus to him, each round progressively getting louder and louder. Things again become serious for a moment when he introduces the song “Kill Somebody”. Before the gig, fans were handing out paper hearts asking others to shine a light during the song to show their support for Dom as he goes on to explain how once upon a time, he often found himself in a dark place filled with anxiety. It wasn't until he launched his music career and connected with his fan base that he finally felt able to open up about his emotional state, which is now embodied in the song. If anyone reading this is suffering from any form of mental health, no mater how slight or how severe, the first step to winning the battle is to talk about it with someone. This is the message that Yungblud embraces and supports whole heartedly. You are not alone.
For the encore it starts with the album opener “Eulogy”, another spoken word piece that describes the demise of one Yungblud, a person who “didn't give a fuck”, who spoke too loud so the politicians killed him. This transitions straight into “Die For The Hype” and “Doctor Doctor” which keeps the intensity that was felt during the opening tracks. Before the final song of the night however, I make no exaggeration, tere was a solid 5 minutes of applause and cheers! Each time Dom raised the mic to his lips the crowd cheered even louder which he found hilarious and obviously overwhelming. It became a bit of a game almost to see who would break first. Fair to say the crowds cheers died down enough for the final show stopper “Machine Gun” to begin, a song which highlights the controversy in America where people with a troubled mental state can still purchase and sadly unleash guns on innocent victims. My personal favourite part of this song during the live performance is when he mimics the cocking of two guns in each hand, akin to something you would see in Terminator 2. It's just a quirky little dance move that syncs with the cocking gun sound in the track.
And just like that, the night is over. If you're suffering from post gig blues or you are yet to witness the Yungblud craze, it's OK, he returns for another tour in November, but tickets are already selling fast so you best be quick.
P.S. If your mental state of mind is stopping you from living a full and happy life, you are not alone. There are a number of organisations in the link below that will help you out of the darkness. The first step is to talk about it.
Words and Photography by Rachel Prew