You Me At Six have been going from strength-to-strength for the last ten years as a band. Their last album, ‘Cavalier Youth’, achieved for them their very first UK number one record, and laid a marker down for British rock music. Since then, the band have been lying low for a while, and the hype around seems to have died down slightly. With the release of ‘Night People’ and a shift towards a more indie rock sound, the band have found themselves headlining the second stage at this year’s Reading & Leeds Festival. But first, here’s their headline tour of the UK.
As soon as openers Black Foxxes  hit the stage, we’re hit with a barrage of sound and amplifier feedback, and for a second that’s okay, but it goes on for a while. I’m all for trying to create an atmosphere, but then there’s just white noise for 30 seconds. Frontman Mark Holley is wearing a zip-up hoodie with the hood up and dressed in all black, the bassist looks like he’s playing in The Kooks, and the drummer looks like he belongs in The Black Keys. Basically, they look like a mish-mash of genres, and that’s exactly how they sound. There’s certain songs that are reminiscent of early Moose Blood and a couple sound like generic British pop-rock. That being said, there’s no doubt they’ll be moving on to better things but telling the crowd to “Shut the fuck up” and “You need to listen because this part is really good” isn’t going to get you where you need to be.
On the other hand, Tonight Alive  know how to get a crowd going. It’s less about them and more about the audience. Lead singer Jenna McDougall absolutely knows how to work a crowd, and from set opener ‘How Does It Feel?’ they’re absolutely loving it. The band rip through a 10 song set that spans their career, as well as a couple of new tracks, which are very well received and show promise for the future. The vibe for Tonight Alive is the polar opposite for that of Black Foxxes; McDougall stresses to the crowd for them to be themselves and about how much they love their fans. It’s a bit cheesy and they surely give the same speech every night, but the crowd are absolutely loving it.
Cariff’s Motorpoint Arena can hold 7,500 people on a sold out night, but tonight is not one of those nights. The arena is between half and three quarters full, so much so that they’ve put barriers around the area to group the crowd together a little more. Admittedly it’s not a good sign for You Me At Six , who haven’t toured since they announced an intimate run of shows last October. These were played in venues that they haven’t been used to playing since their ‘Sinners Never Sleep’ cycle, and the tour didn’t sell as well as anyone would’ve hoped. Perhaps an arena was slightly ambitious.
The band open with the self-titled track off their new album, ‘Night People’. Even though the song gets a good reaction, opening an arena show with a mid-paced and rather boring song isn’t the best way to do that. It’s quickly followed by ‘Underdog’, and the response is huge. Perhaps they should’ve gone for a more lively song for an opener as to set the tone for what everyone knows a YMAS show can be – fun.
The band look like they’re having the time of their lives for the first quarter of the set, which is full of old tracks like ‘Loverboy’ and ‘The Swarm’, which get those who are here at the arena off their feet. The band even have a surprise inclusion of ‘Save It For The Bedroom’, which is an absolutely treat for all that have followed the band since the start.
There are a few downside to tonight’s show, though. The band’s newer material doesn’t translate very well in a live setting, and the set list is very heavy with freshly released material. The band look bored, the crowd look bored, and unfortunately the show is somewhat boring. The second downfall is the atmosphere, or lack there of. In reality, this isn’t really the band’s fault. It takes a showman of the absolute highest calibre to get the best out of a half empty arena, and Josh Franceschi is just not of that calibre.
I don’t like for a band to oversell themselves on stage magic such as over the top pyrotechnics and confetti cannons to get a crowd going. With that being said, you can’t help but think that something, indeed anything of that nature would’ve really helped tonight. The band have tried to strip things back to basics and rely solely on their music to create an atmosphere, but a half empty arena probably isn’t the best time to do that.
With that being said, their 3 track encore is probably the highlight of the night. ‘Room To Breathe’ is right up there with the best of them for closing a live show, yet sadly it’s the only time of the night that felt arena worthy.
Written by Jacob Eynon (@itsjustjake93)