Live Music + Gig Reviews

Yuck @ Macbeth, London

17 September 2013

yuck When any member of a band leaves it shakes things up; the remaining number have some big decisions to make about whether to carry on, whether to get someone new in, how to amend the songs to fit their revised band, or whether to change the name. But when that member is your singer, guitarist, songwriter and frontman, you’ve got more than a few chord changes to contend with.

That’s what happened to Yuck. Riding high on the back of their debut, self titled album, the lo-fi noise popsters – formed from the ashes of Cajun Dance Party – toured relentlessly and fans and critics alike were eagerly awaiting its follow up. But then came some shocking news; in April it was announced that founding member Daniel Blumberg had left Yuck to “concentrate on his own music”. Even more shocking was their decision to carry on. Following the loss of their frontman, they simply brushed themselves down and got one with it. And pretty sharpish at that.

Their new album Glow And Behold is due in a few weeks’ time, and early tasters haven’t disappointed. To build up the anticipation they’re embarking on a three-night residency at Hoxton’s Macbeth. The east end boozer is packed, but anyone trying to buy a drink at the start of the headliners’ set was in for a bit of a wait, as the bar staff jostled for a view of the stage. But they weren’t all die hard Yuck fans; they were trying to catch a glimpse of their colleague, Ed Hayes, who’s joined the band on guitar.

Where Hayes fills the gap left by Daniel’s guitar, vocals are mostly looked after by Max Bloom, with help from Mariko Doi, and Bloom – formerly something of a wallflower – appears content to assume the position of frontman too, making easy chat with the crowd and steering his bandmates. Blumberg’s departure isn’t mentioned, and they never acknowledge the circumstances that led them to be at the Macbeth tonight. In fact, as if to make an abject point of carrying on as normal, the set kicks off with Holing Out. Bloom’s vocals aren’t quite as murky and fuzzy as Blumberg’s, but he does a pretty good impression of him and the difference is soon forgotten.

New songs, including single Middle Sea, sit comfortably alongside old tracks like Georgia and The Wall, which Doi sings slightly clumsily but with a freshness that’s overdue – that first album is over two years old now. Songs lifted from their forthcoming LP are more melodic, with a poppier edge than before, but not at the expense of the intricacies and humour that made their debut so great. Hayes has brought an enthusiasm and sense of fun to the band, and for the first time since their earliest gigs, they look like they’re really enjoying themselves.

They close with the brilliant Operation, from their debut, but as the crowd files out all thoughts are on its follow-up. Could that much lauded first album end up paling into insignificance in the Yuck discography? The obscure album they made before hitting the big time? Roll on 30 September.

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More on Yuck
Yuck – Stranger Things
Camden Crawl 2014: First acts announced
Yuck – Glow And Behold
Yuck @ Macbeth, London
London Gigs Diary: 16-22 September 2013