Live Music + Gig Reviews

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ Leadmill, Sheffield

11 February 2006

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Those with their interests firmly located in the post-Arcade Fire musical climate on the North American continent will almost certainly already be acquainted with Philadelphia via Brooklyn quintet Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Indeed, ever since those rowdy Canadians captured the imagination of quite a lot of people with their debut record early last year, there’s been an anxious search to find a group to salivate over in a similar manner in 2006 – and CYHSY, with a strong debut album behind them, have proved to be a worthy candidate as any.

You see, much like the Arcade Fire, this is slightly quirky, left of centre rock, influenced in no small part by Talking Heads, David Bowie and the rest. And like their torch bearing predecessors, they’ve been brought to the public attention by that good old-fashioned thing called word of mouth, something that helped to ensure uncomfortably rammed venues during their whistle stop UK tour at the tail end of last year, even before an official release to their name.

A fair amount of baggage and pressure to deliver on their collective shoulders, then, as they strolled on to the balloon filled stage tonight at Sheffield’s packed-to-the-rafters Leadmill, to complete only their second headline tour of these shores.

Thankfully, as soon bass line of opener Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away was amplified through the PA and Alec Ounsworth opened his mouth to sing, it was unequivocally clear that this would be no limp, half-hearted affair, but more one to justify any laudable words surrounding them.

In stark contrast to their so-laid-back-they-may-as-well-lying-down-too-cool-for-art-school image, this was an incredibly big sounding, energy filled set with a real bite to it. The songs here were fortified in a manner not quite seen on record, and at times particularly during the regal, utterly concise renditions of debut single Is This Love?, album centrepiece The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth and the brooding, Interpol-a-like Details Of The War – it almost felt like coming to South Yorkshire on this icy Saturday night in mid February was a destiny of theirs being fulfilled.

Ounsworth’s nasal, David Byrne/Thom Yorke recalling whine will always be an acquired taste, for sure, but let it be known that his tones suit this sort of music perfectly when mixed with the predominant keyboard sounds, heavy chords and the very audible bass that characterise this group, it creates a sound so powerful and uplifting in its nature (see new single Is This Home On Ice, for one) you can but only clap your hands and respond firmly in the affirmative.

The fact that the band looked genuinely enthused to be playing Ounsworth was occasionally seen to be sporting a wide grin in between his numerous crowd thank yous, whilst keyboardist Robbie Guertin often felt compelled to jump up and down to the music like an excited child on Christmas morning – gave the performance an extra impetus to just another run-of-the-mill album showcase.

Departing our company after a three-song encore culminating in an urgent run through of Heavy Metal, they move on to a tour of Europe totally vindicated of any claims of complacency, and with any luck, a cemented reputation as nothing less than a truly great live band. Should they be interested, 2006 is theirs for the taking.

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More on Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – New Fragility
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Tourist
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ Covo Club, Bologna
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Hysterical
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ Scala, London