There can’t be more than 30 people in the Barfly tonight, but each one of them can bear witness to one of the great discoveries of 2007…
That the majority of folks have turned up to cheer on plucky Manchester support band Music By Numbers gives an indication as to Yeasayer‘s labelling as music’s best kept secret.
They won’t be a secret for long.
Hailing from Brooklyn, the four-piece are an unclassifiable wonder that are creating seismic industry shudders with critics and bloggers alike salivating over their quite remarkable debut All Hour Cymbals, released in the UK last week.
Perhaps the reason for such slavering excitement is their genuine ‘like no other’ appeal. Sure there’s elements of prog, Fleetwood Mac, Animal Collective and most obviously David Byrnes‘ collaboration with Brian Eno on My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, but when Yeasayer meld slithers of each of these influences together the completed whole is radical, individual and undeniably compelling.
That they recreate this eclectic melting pot of inspiration live – and better it – makes the occasion all the more unforgettable.
Thirty seconds in and my friends Rosie and Mike, though unaccustomed to the joys of All Hour Cymbals, are swaying and beaming ear to ear; the three of us exchange knowing glances acquiescing that we’re on to a winner.
The heady concoction of fizzing electronics and twin guitar magic of Ferdy from This Life lookalike Anand Wilder (centre pic) and neon orange wifebeater-sporting Ira Wolf Tuton (bottom pic) is an exciting proposition in itself.
Add to this visually-arresting frontman Chris Keating (above), dressed in a sleeveless sheepskin hoodie combo, spazzing and jerking like a wolfman coming off skag, while layering the sound with keyboard flourishes and its a dynamic treat for the senses.
No Need To Worry finds Luke Fasano flexing between drum pad and kit, mere flicks of his wrist echo and boom while Tuton swaps guitar for bass and Wilder reaches for the stars with a sky-splicing solo.
Wait For The Summer with its Arabian chiming and finger click percussion showcases Yeasayer’s trademark four-part harmonies, as Keating howls ‘Someone help me, someone help me please,’ the rest of the band create a wash of vocal melodies as what sounds like a sitar rings out in the distance.
With an air of Eastern mysticism, Forgiveness includes finger-picking riffs backed by heavy tablas while Sunrise captures their tribal rhythmic patter and dizzying ambition. Tuton certainly digs it, you should have seen his knee-bending moves.
Best of all is their terrifying ‘pop’ anthem 2080, built around Wilder’s cyclical groove, Keating, rocking so hard he looks on the verge of combustion, confesses: “I can’t sleep when I think about the times we’re living in. I can’t sleep when I think about the future I was born into.”
For two thirds of the track it spirals into orbit before Tuton and Fasano break proceedings down into a clattering, thunking beat as lyrics are spat from each corner of the stage.
At 45 minutes its over far too soon, but speaking to Fasano and Keating afterwards they’re keen to return and with a slot booked for next May’s Pitchfork-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties, you can bet all hipster eyes will be firmly trained to Yeasayer’s rising star.
‘Gig of the year,’ Rosie proclaims as we march out into the crisp November air. I doubt the few who were there would argue.
*Pictures courtesy of Pitchfork