Put simply, Gang of Youths are the best band in the country right now.
And they are a band in the true sense of the word, with the five members working together to create something truly special in a dynamic, high-energy live show. Their songs are big and expansive, perfectly suited the wide stage at Thebby. It’s now hard to imagine them performing on anything smaller, although it wasn’t so long ago they were playing the Exeter, such has been their irrepressible trajectory.
Latest album, Go Farther in Lightness, made up the majority of the set, translating well from the record to the stage, with a few favourites from the debut album spread throughout the show.
Opening up with a triumphant rendition of ‘What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out?’, the volume was up, the sound mix perfectly balanced and the energy ramped right up. By the third song in, ‘Fear and Trembling’, it was clear that this would be a gig to remember.
David Le’aupepe is the consummate frontman; there’s a touch of Hutchence in the way he commands the stage and emotes his lyrics. The hefty subject matter of many of the songs often presents him as a serious character. And this was certainly the case for midset meditations, ‘Kansas’ and ‘Knuckles White Dry’ (although the emotional honesty of these moments was lost on those who were talking at the back of the floor section). But it wasn’t all deep and heavy stuff, with Le’aupepe showing off some sensual dancing moves during ‘Let Me Down Easy’ and ‘Magnolia’.
Closing the main set with the marching beat of ‘Vital Signs’, the early hit had the audience enthusiastically singing along. The encore then finished on a poignant note, with ‘Say Yes To Life’ taking on a slightly different meaning in the current political climate.
This band could really go on to do anything, so stay tuned.
Reviewed by Matthew Trainor
Photos by John Goodridge