Published: 29/03/2016 11:59 - Updated: 29/03/2016 15:16

REVIEW: Years & Years

Olly Alexander of Years & Years at the Ironworks. Picture: Callum Mackay
Olly Alexander of Years & Years at the Ironworks. Picture: Callum Mackay




Years & Years

Ironworks, Inverness

* * * *

by Margaret Chrystall

THERE probably wasn’t a better time for the Ironworks crowd to see Years & Years – primed by two national TV performances of latest single Desire over the weekend – and the energy that comes from the start of a tour.

A misfire in the first song – what a grinning and relaxed frontman Olly Alexander called "outage" – was the only sign throughout the long set of any first-night-of-the-tour problems.

Pristine sound was matched by an amazing Tron-esque light show that pulsed a vibrant rainbow through a series of geometric grids echoing the cover design of debut album Communion.

Foundation opened the show and the packed floor of the Ironworks saw bodies moving and phones filming as Years & Years – largely in silhouette – got the night off to a promising start.

Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen stand like twin towers of rock either side of the stage for most of the gig, occasionally swapping synths/keyboards/drum pads for guitars, while drummer Dylan Bell is also out of the limelight.

An uplit Olly pictured as the Years & Years' set began on Monday. Picture: Callum Mackay
An uplit Olly pictured as the Years & Years' set began on Monday. Picture: Callum Mackay

And the effect is that all eyes are on Olly whose performance background presumably is the reason he’s better than most frontmen/singers at never forgetting ... that all eyes are on him.

Part star child, part Midwich Cuckoo now he’s gone for the white blond dye job, he creates an instantly loveable, almost timid figure in his ankle socks and sneakers, the long black shorts and T-shirt scattered in matching blobs of silver that catch the light.

He’s like your kid brother or the Little Prince. And the impeccably cool, lazy dancing sometimes seems like a token shorthand for bigger shapes he’ll make later when he can be bothered to really bust some moves. One of his favourites is stretching his hands above his head like a baby yawning itself awake or crossing his hands down below his crotch or rolling his forearms around each other slowly like an ironic tribute to disco.

To be honest, whatever Olly did in the show, just looked right and now ... but was about as far from nasty, dirty rock n roll as it’s possible to be.

He’s clean, polite and caring – Olly brings up Latvian "Essvaa" to sit beside him during Memo, where he sings at the piano/keys. And before the beautiful ballad Eyes Shut, he pays tribute to an Inverness girl called Georgia who sadly died before getting her chance to see Years & Years at the Ironworks.

But listen to the average Years & Years song, and you start craving a real tune.

Though there are brilliant exceptions – current revamped single Desire is a glorious punching the air anthem that earworms its way into your life – it becomes more about the vibe, almost the old-fashioned long-player record idea, or chilled songs to soundtrack a warm summer’s evening at a festival with friends.

The crowd - a massive cheer greets Shine – and the whole place is singing.

New song See Me Now sounds summery and saw Olly pulling an amazing falsetto moment or two. Singing was centre stage when the two backing singers chorused in unison with Olly in the crowd-pleasing Ties, before they stepped forward to take centre-stage with him later in Without.

Gold gave us a little in-joke as the lights went burnt orange into sunshine yellow and Olly ended the song succeeding in getting the crowd overhead clapping to the max. King ended the main set on a high for the crowd with ever-polite Olly thanking Inverness for being – was it amazing?

Maybe the biggest clues to the potential for where the Years & Years machine could point its compass next might lie in the smart covers the group added into their Communion-packed set.

There was a slow smile of recognition as Olly and the band got stuck into their cover of this year's massive Drake hit Hotline Blingwhich slunk into Katy Perry’s Dark Horse  and it was popular with the crowd who spent the night showing off their singalong talents.

But the encore’s duet with strong support act MØ – or Karen Marie Ørsted – facing off with Olly in Brandy and Monica’s The Girl Is Mine (the Grammy-winning RnB reply to Michael Jackson’s The Boy Is Mine) – really worked.

And where the current recorded duet on Desire with Swedish singer Tove Lo is interesting, the live flesh and blood pairing of Olly’n’ MØ – her rampaging energy and his more seductive take – is potential dynamite.

This gig was a special experience for anyone lucky enough to be there – if only to enjoy an act so wincingly on-trend in our city.



Years & Years singer Olly Alexander pictured with Georgia.
Years & Years singer Olly Alexander pictured with fan Georgia.



Georgia Musgrove (16), Aviemore
Georgia Musgrove (16), Aviemore


What were your favourite songs from the Ironworks set?

GEORGIA: I had a few favourite songs; Take Shelter, Shine, Desire and Ties were great because they’re some of my favourites anyway. The Dark Horse/Hotline Bling mashup was very good as they weren’t songs you would typically put together, but they sounded great. Without sounded amazing with the backing singers taking centre stage with Olly and harmonising with him. Eyes Shut is another favourite and the dedication to Georgia Gilham, an Inverness girl who was meant to be at the show but recently passed away, made the song one of the most reacted to of the night as many in the audience knew her.

During the encore, they brought back support act MØ and together they sung The Boy Is Mine, originally by Brandy and Monica.

This was a brilliant performance with them facing off to each other.

Best moment of the night for you?

GEORGIA: We managed to meet them after the show and they were so lovely, spending time taking photos and talking with all of the twenty or so fans there. This was my first time seeing them, I was not disappointed and would definitely go again.

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