REVIEW: Yuck @ The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth – 22/11/11

The atmosphere was just right in the Wedgewood Rooms that evening, the venue was at max capacity, we’d just witnessed two support acts, Gross Magic and Fanzine, who made a valiant effort to captivate the vast crowd before them, and In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel was on in the background. Yuck were due to come on to the stage any moment now…

I had little idea of what to expect from Yuck, with the only insight into their live performances I had were from Jools Holland and the like. I was generally impressed by what I had seen, so subsequently had high expectations for their set tonight.

The band emerged to much applause, starting off with Holing Out. They started off strong, the crowd were enthusiastic, and they played it without a hitch. This continued throughout the night; the band performed all the highpoints of their short career to grateful crowds admirably.

Highlight of the show was always going to be Get Away, far and away the biggest crowd-pleaser of the evening, just after The Wall. They built up to it using different effects and drums and the moment a recognisable note was made, applause erupted. The crowd were the liveliest they had been all night, and it lasted until the closing notes of the song. The bass-line, provided by Mariko Doi, felt almost Pixies-esque.

The slower, more heart-felt songs of the set were met with admiration from the crowd. It showed that frontman Daniel Blumberg actually did have a great voice, Shook Down highlighted this, refrains of “you could be my destiny / you could mean that much to me” felt sincere coming from the singer.

Vocal work on personal favourite song, Operation, was done by lead guitarist Max Bloom and he did a surprisingly good job. He mimicked Blumberg’s vocal style, and delivered it with passion.

The biggest flaw of the evening was that none of the band seemed to have the confidence they needed to truly work the crowd and make it a memorable gig. It felt like they were just going through the motions, and the only interaction with the crowd was the occasional “this song is called…” or “thank you so much for coming”. The main singer’s stage presence was very small, and he seemed very timid throughout.

The band frequently indulged in bouts of distortion for minutes on end between songs with onlookers looking baffled. This was emphasised during the closing of their set, where people looked perplexed about whether they were supposed to leave the venue or wait until the end. The band, having exhausted the vast majority of their material throughout the set, did not return for an encore. I’m a fan of distortion in music, but when it’s used to that extent it just becomes slightly unbearable.

One day, it may be possible that Yuck will be known as a truly great band, both on record and in a live setting. While they proved tonight that they had the skill to play music in front of 500 people, they didn’t show the showmanship that is required to make people really feel like part of the live experience. Until they find a way to boost their self confidence on stage, I can’t truly recommend going to see them live over listening to the record at home.


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