For a band that has been gigging relentlessly of late, Yeasayer marked their French debut in some style last night. Taking their time in warming up, the four-piece began with the rather soft and slow sequence via the new (and as yet unreleased) song ‘Tightrope’, the dreamy ‘Worms’ and the gradual build of ‘Waves’ – a far cry from the bracing belt of energy anticipated.
For a moment it seemed as if the rigours of the aforementioned touring might spell a lacklustre display from a tired band far from home. Yet with the new and improved version of ‘Wait for the Summer’ came a welcome change of pace that sought out an ambience more riotous than relaxing, sending frontman Chris Keating into a writhing, seizure-like posture for the rest of the night.
When I interviewed guitarist Anand Wilder in January, he said that he wasn’t able to listen All Hour Cymbals anymore because the songs had progressed so much since the time of recording. Seeing the four-piece hit full stride with a much more natural, smoother sound, it was easy to see what he was getting at.
Above: the new, re-recorded ‘single-edit’ of ‘Wait for the Summer’
Although Wilder and Keating had an assortment of samplers to hand, the gadgetry took a backseat to proceedings, allowing an otherwise no-frills rock instrumentation to knock the material into a shape better suited to live performances. No longer sounding like multi-layered tracks laden down with effects, the songs now seemed to have developed a life independent of their studio counterparts.
Despite the quintessentially French heckle of “can you make it a little bit crazier, ah?”, Yeasayer’s four-part harmonies had the crowd well and truly won over, proving the group’s former incarnation as a barbershop quartet has held them in good stead.
Having bowed with a thumping rendition of ‘Wintertime,’ the band returned for what they claimed was their longest ever encore, letting the celebratory chants of ‘Red Cave’ ring out in one final, triumphant gesture. Despite being a relatively short set, all available material was played and there can certainly be no qualms about the overall quality on display. As the house lights went up, the only thing that remained was to wander out into the cold Parisian night to see if the same magic could translate in the entirely improvised world of the Take Away Show – now a rite of passage for any indie band worth their salt – but that’s a story for another time…