Live Review – Whenyoung @ Hare & Hounds
Hare & Hounds
Review by SdM
London based Irish band Whenyoung are on their first headline tour to promote their recently released single ‘Never Let Go’. The trio are capitalising on a growing reputation for producing a brand of sparkly indie pop allied to a strong underpinning of indie rock. The land that gave us U2 and Thin Lizzy amongst many others has a fine pedigree of producing bands capable of merging meaningful lyrics to an inventive commercial sound, and all this whilst dodging corporate cookie-cutter contrivance like a fleet-footed centre forward heading for goal.
‘Blank Walls’ and set closer ‘Given Up’ rock like a good anthem should. Both have joyous, riotous air punching chorus, catchy melodies and head bobbing driving beats. ‘Pretty Pure’ and the softly strummed ‘Sleeper’ have a wistful yearning perfected to Aoife’s delicate and intoxicating Irish lilt. If set opener ‘Shiny Things’ proves anything it is that the whole smorgasbord of pop/indie/rock can be blended into three minutes of magic. Lyrical depth and questions on the human condition are straddled without breaking down into an oddly mangled and concocted stodge. Over a panoply of rock-out guitar chords – “Don’t want to be human anymore”, Aoife sings with heartbreakingly pensive melancholy. Wonderful.
If Aoife’s voice is the soul of Whenyoung then Niall and Andrew, guitar and drums respectively, are the heart. Whether that is soaring melodic notes, hammered distortion or a driving rhythmic rock-out the trio make a captivating sound that can fit any mood – from car driving sing-alongs to hug-your-partner nights in – it’s all wrapped up into three minute delights.
The one-piece unflattering workman’s’ overalls have been eschewed for more sober suits…..well for Aoife at least. Niall and Andrew looked more like children’s TV presenters in suits of banana yellow and tomato red. Are you ready to rock, kids? “Come forward and have a dance,” beckons Niall, “we’re really friendly Irish people.” The bright smile across his beaming face was reassuringly sincere. Whenyoung are terrifically welcoming and embody the warm good nature of the Irish. They are happy to be here and want us to know it. “Come say hello at the merch afterwards” shouts Andrew from behind the drumkit. They had time and spoke to everyone who stayed and posed for numerous photos. Truly a band you can take home to meet your mom.
Supporting Whenyoung on this tour are Glaswegian band The Ninth Wave. Scotland, much like their Celtic cousins, have produced more than their fair share of talented and mould breaking artists. In the post industrialised gloom and despondency of the 80’s Glasgow was well known for a slew of provocative Electro-doom ground-breaking bands. Before the impenetrable distortion of The Jesus & Mary Chain and the other worldly sound of the Cocteau Twins changed indie music forever bands like Secession and The Wake were pioneering a unique and evocative synth and guitar combination.
The Ninth Wave have been channeling some their homelands finest and blending it with a modern twist – reinvigorating a post-punk moody stomp of a bygone era and fusing with glint of 90’s pop-rock. A Deacon Blue twin boy/girl vocals interplay with a Joy Division-esque distorted disaffection and classic synth-sounds that could be a darker version of The Human League. In their lightest moments they sound, ironically, like The Editors at their darkest. It’s dark, mysterious and thoroughly captivating.
On tonight’s performance The Ninth Wave are definitely the Yin to Whenyoung’s Yang. But as these seemingly opposite but complementary and interconnected forces – dark and light, order and chaos – interrelate to make our lives ‘interesting’, so did it make for a good evening of entertainment. There were plenty of nods of agreement in the audience – The Ninth Wave made a lot of new friends tonight.
The current tour is on-going. If it comes to a town near you grab yourself a ticket. It’s a great night of music. Light and dark. Winter and summer. Guiness and Whisky. Mines a double.