Years & Years - Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
Years & Years burst onto the music scene last year - after winning the BBC Sound of 2015 they released their chart topping debut album, Communion, and became one of the country's most prominent new pop acts. They ended last year with a UK tour of small capacity venues so it was surprising when, despite no new music, the band announced a massive arena tour, climaxing at Wembley Arena.
To embark on an arena tour with only one album seems brave, but not unheard of these days, and the extravagant production of their show has no problem filling the entirety of the venue. All elements of a classic pop concert are present. And amplified unashamedly. Confetti explosions, laser beams, group dance arrangements and an impressive light display accompany, and at times overshadow, the music. The exuberance of the performance is a clear product of frontman Olly Alexander - he's recently become a noted figure in the industry with his promotion of individuality, fashion forwardness and LGBTQ+ activism. With backing members Emre Turkmen and Mikey Goldsworthy sticking to the shadows (except for the moment when the latter was reluctantly dragged out to be serenaded with 'Happy Birthday'), Alexander was solely responsible for maintaining enthusiasm. He did so relentlessly, constantly moving to cover the large stage and keep all attendees in the large venue engaged, luckily most of the songs are upbeat enough to keep the crowd happily dancing along regardless.
Despite a small repertoire the band managed almost an hour and a half set, meaning nearly every song on the album was played and multiple covers were included, yet it didn't feel like the crowd were being subjected to dull filler songs and the covers especially really broke up the set. The young pop-focused audience were thrilled at the clever mash-up of Katy Perry's 'Dark Horse' and Drake's 'Hotline Bling'. In fact the atmosphere of the show can be summed up by the encore performance where the lithe frontman donned an entirely gold, spiked outfit and duetted with opening act MO on the 90's track 'The Boy is Mine'. This brazen embracing of pop culture may be jarring for some but for anyone looking for a night of fun and carefree dance tunes Years & Years are a must.