Brooklyn five-piece electro-hags, Yeasayer are an unpredictable quantity; with a first album full of meandering psychedelic slow-burners, and a second album, Odd Blood released earlier this year, featuring feckless artwork more at home on the cover of a… deep breath… Ozric Tenticles album (I’m never allowed to mention that name ever again on this site), they are perhaps a difficult band to approach.
And then O.N.E. happened, and with it inexplicable regular rotation on daytime Radio 1. In a bizarre anti-MGMT career move, it turns out their earlier foray into Middle Eastern psych-gospel (their phrase, not mine) was just to keep the record label happy, all Yeasayer really wanted was to write gigantic pop bangers.
So tonight, underneath a gigantic white Bedouin sheet (Christ) Yeasayer shamble on to the Cambridge stage and are greeted with an uproariously enthusiastic crowd, and good grief, they deliver.
Odd Blood opener, The Children, is first up, with it’s slowed down, heavily effected vocals, and hypnotic chanting beat played out at an even more languid place than on the album. It works, and the first half of the evening follows a similar rhythm. The best handful of tracks from All Hour Cymbals mixed with the slower tracks from Odd Blood keeps things at a nice even tempo, but always funky and charmingly danceable.
I Remember is a particularly sweet, falsetto highlight, which segues brilliantly into the superior first album track, Sunrise. And it’s this organic melding of tracks, more akin to a dance act, that the rest of the gig could have done with throughout. Yeasayer create a constant and inescapable rhythm which is stymied with every stop and start between tracks. This is a massive shame being as the crowd definitely has the stamina for something more energetic.
Luckily for them, O.N.E. is just around the corner, followed by the ferociously upbeat Rome, Mondegreen and contender for single of the year, Ambling Alp. This and O.N.E. though are perhaps disappointing for not being as tight as their album bedfellows and seem under rehearsed, but this is a warm-up gig and are likely to be the festival anthems they deserve to be over the coming months.
Yeasayer appear genuinely surprised that they’ve been so passionately received, and were clearly not expecting to do an encore, otherwise they would’ve saved one of their singles till last instead of the frankly tosh psych-workout that is Wait for the Wintertime.
Minor criticisms aside, such as with all those musicians on stage with all that equipment, did they really need to play the keyboard as a loop rather than live? Yeasayer can tumble out of bed with their mussed up hair and jimmy-jams anytime they like and my cold hard heart will judge them no longer.
Words and Pictures: Christopher Ratcliff