Since bursting onto our airwaves earlier this year with their irrepressibly catchy tune King, trio Years and Years have taken audiences by storm with their idiosyncratic brand of synth-pop. Fresh from their Splendour appearance the day before, where they reportedly flew in 7 hours before they were scheduled to play, the ensemble made it their business to give Sydney’s Metro Theatre a taste of what they could do.
Having heard less than stellar reviews of their splendour performance (which from the many Instagrams listed under the SplendourInTheMud hashtag looked like a literal quagmire) I was slightly unsure, yet elated, to be seeing such a up-and-coming band.
Years and Years have been instrumental in bringing gay artists to the forefront of the social consciousness and proving that they can be just as successful and marketable as their heterosexual counterparts, evident by the fervent turnout on the night of their performance.
After a predictably awesome opening set from homegrown locals Panama, Years and Years took to the stage shortly after 9:45pm to an excited Sunday crowd. Alexander, with his newly bleached mop of curly peroxide blond hair, opened with a personal favourite of mine Foundation, the prologue to the rest of their commercially and critically acclaimed debut album Communion.
The song is a gradual crescendo of soaring vocals and ghostly, echoing synths; the prefect prelude to an album. It requires quite a degree of vocal gymnastics, and while on the album it sounds very polished, Alexander didn’t quite hit the mark in real life, his voice bordering on screeching at some points, causing my eardrums to cringe in pain.
Next up was Take Shelter which, despite the album only being out a short while, everyone already knew the words to. Alexander greeted the crowd warmly, with a demure and appreciative “Thank you so much!” in his polite English accent, before launching into one of their better known hits Desire, a punchy pop banger that got the crowd jumping up and down.
In between songs, Alexander awkwardly (albeit adorably) fumbled his way through some crowd banter, admitting he was “really not good at it” while he stalled for time as fellow bandmates Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen handled the technical stuff. He explained that the day before at their Splendour performance, most of their equipment hadn’t arrived with them, making for less than suitable performance conditions. One of my friends who had attended their slot said that they even admitted that “we don’t normally sound like this”. Yikes.
Performing a series of their more high energy medleys, like Worship and Gold, they slowed it all down for more plaintive performances of some of the ballads on Communion, such as Memo and Without, perfectly suited to the melodically sweet pitch of Alexander’s vocals. The slower tempo allowed for Alexander to show off his vocal ability a bit better than when he was jumping around energetically on his other tracks.
But of course, everyone was holding out for more revered hits, like Shine, which transformed the room into a jumping mass of flailing limbs, the excitement was so palpable. The temperature in the room turned up, so off came Alexander’s colourful-looking jumper so he could better jump around and get into it. The audience even got treated to a cover of Sean Paul’s Breathe.
Despite being relatively fresh to their newfound fame, Years and Years certainly has strong following. When it came to the hit that made them famous, King, they absolutely blew everyone away, finishing on a high note (literally) and bringing smiles to the faces of everyone there.
Although obviously still a bit green when it comes to performing live and things like crowd interaction, Years and Years are a genuinely talented band and their musical career trajectories can only be headed skywards if their latest album and concert performance is anything to go by.