After support act MØ faultlessly performed her most notable song ‘Lean On’, the lingering excitement among the audience boosted to new levels within the intimate 02 Academy venue. With the aftermath of MØ’s set putting everyone in the mood to dance, almost every time the lights changed or the background songs stopped people screamed, longing for Years and Years to finally enter the stage.
Out of nowhere, you suddenly hear lead singer Olly Alexander’s voice, singing the slow, tension-building song ‘Foundation’ as the rest of the band members Mikey, Emre and Dylan take to the stage. Bursting with anticipation for the gig to begin, the 02 Academy is dominated by shrieks from the audience. People on the balconies and booths leap up from their seats and jerk their heads, scouring the stage waiting for Olly to finally show his face.
Everyone completely surrenders their attention to Olly when he finally presents himself in a full-length boldly-coloured orange and blue jumpsuit. He breaks from his initial slow-starter into ‘Take Shelter’ as the band’s first hit of the night, which was appropriately the band’s first ever UK #1.
Perfectly pitched and as clear and crisp as you could imagine, the audience were totally fixated on Olly’s impressive, soulful voice. Drummer Dylan was also ridiculously impressive, who noticeably enjoyed every beat of every single song like he’d been practicing them his whole life.
The set list inevitably included a lot of their big-time tunes including ‘Eyes Shut’, where the band’s banter and fun-loving attitude came to a halt, and reversely took a calmer approach with a single spotlight focusing on Olly whilst he both played the keyboard and sang. When they played ‘Shine’ – this was undoubtedly the song of the night. Olly didn’t have much choice in that the audience were singing most of it for him – throughout the song he would stop and giggle in disbelief at the overwhelming amount of people singing along word for word. Similarly for ‘Desire’ – the amount of people jumping and belting out the lyrics along with Olly was immense, it was like the whole 02 Academy was shaking with the rapid movement and belting sound of the crowd.
They also played a number of new songs from their first and most recent album ‘Communion’, and even though songs like ‘See Me Now’ and ‘Without’ aren’t their most recognisable songs, they still had the audience completely captivated. There were quite a few surprises throughout the gig – including one of my personal favourites where they did an unexpected mash-up of Katy Perry’s ‘Dark Horse’ and Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’, which they recreated with a serious and sensual style to it.
For their encore, the band invited support act MØ back out for a duet with Olly, and unpredictably chose to cover the 1998 Brandy and Monica song ‘The Boy is Mine’. Filled with sassiness and undeniable banter and chemistry between the two vocalists, this song was the perfect choice for them.
With the night soon coming to a close, the audience were certain of what was coming next. With speculation circulating that ‘King’ had to be their final song, the band finished off with one last enthusiastic, energetic blow-out, giving the crowd exactly what they wanted. After graduating up from Glasgow’s 02 ABC venue to the 02 Academy and selling out both nights – there’s no doubt that Years and Years will be aiming for bigger and better next time they visit, which I suspect might even include a sell-out at the Hydro at this rate.
by Amy Pollock