You Me At Six were on a UK arena tour to promote their 5th studio album Night People which was recorded in Nashville with the award winning producer Jacquire King who has had the pleasure of working with the likes of Kings of Leon and James Bay. I was keen to see how tracks from their new album would be received in a live environment, so it was off to the Plymouth Pavilions to see what they thought….
Upon arriving, I saw the biggest queue outside the venue, this wasn’t normal, especially on a Wednesday evening so I knew we were in for a great night of entertainment. Inside, I was surprised to see that the balcony wasn’t open, there was seating at the back of the arena and the floor was filling nicely as the hoards finally made their way in.
You Me At Six attract a younger audience, well, younger than me, which at 45 is quite an easy thing to achieve. I did chuckle when a similarly aged man approached me and asked if I was there to keep an eye on my teenager like he was, I smiled and looked to the sky and said that mine was at the front, looking forward to seeing his favourite band, I’m sure my little white lie won’t send me to hell but it made me smile nonetheless.
Opening up proceedings was Exeter based alt rock trio BLACK FOXXES, looking at the list of venues on the tour, I guess the Plymouth date was classed as a homecoming show for these lot and it was good to see a few locals in the audience who clearly knew what was in store. Mark Holley took to the stage, hood up, picked up his guitar and launched straight into “Husk” from their amazing debut long player I’m Not Well which received critical acclaim from the likes of Daniel P Carter who did an amazing job of catapulting the band into the stratosphere, securing slots at DOWNLOAD and also an appearance on the BBC Introducing stage at the 2016 BBC One Big Weekend event in Exeter.
The band gave it their all and when the opening guitar line of “I’m Not Well” rang out through the auditorium accompanied by Holley’s pained vocals, I knew that their set was nearly over but BIY, what a set it was, from a spark to a roaring inferno in a little under 30 minutes.
Mark Holley (Guitar/Vox) explained that he’d been suffering with the flu and after spending 22 hours in bed, was unsure whether he’d make it on stage, I was so grateful that he plucked up the courage to do so. All in all, an epic set that resulted in Holley throwing his guitar to the floor and exiting the stage to huge applause. This band are really starting to go places and I am proud to say that I had the pleasure of seeing them in just about every ‘toilet’ venue throughout the Southwest! I don’t think it’ll be long until they return to the Plymouth Pavilions but with their name at the top of the bill!
After a short break and a shuffle around on stage, a 5 piece Sydney Australia based act called TONIGHT ALIVE took to the stage. Fronted by blonde bombshell Jenna McDougall, they wasted no time in getting acquainted with the audience, involving them in every way they could and really creating a great atmosphere amongst them. The band were perfectly balanced, the guys doing their thing on guitars and drums whilst Jenna plied her trade from the front, her voice was pitch perfect throughout the set and her energy? Well that was something else! It’s easy to compare female fronted acts with the likes of Gwen Stefani’s NO DOUBT and even EVANESCANCE but these guys bought something else to the party, more sass, more confidence and a sure fire “fuck you” attitude to anyone who would care to disagree.
Jenna told the audience that they needed to be themselves, don’t get suckered into the mass marketing efforts of the major cosmetic companies who do all they can to make you feel inferior and “not as beautiful as you think you are”, this rousing speech received a massive cheer and I dare say that they won a few more fans from their stunning performance here tonight. We did managed to catch up briefly with Jenna at the merch table after their set and she was doing a great job of engaging with her fans, selfies, autographs and even a few minutes spent on the phone to one fan who sadly couldn’t make it to the show! It’s these little things that make a HUGE difference and I’d be surprised if we don’t see this band on another major UK tour anytime soon.
The lights dipped, the cheer went up whilst “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots rang out throughout the auditorium. After a few minutes, the music stopped, smoke pumped out from the stage and on walked YOU ME AT SIX to an adoring audience, there to see their heroes at work. They wasted no time in launching straight into the title track from their latest album Night People, the crowd jumping in unison and singing every work back to them. During “The Swarm”, the audience were asked to crouch down (as did the band) and at a key moment, they all jumped up, creating a euphoric moment that everyone enjoyed, from the side of the stage, it certainly looked impressive!
Collectively, the band must have covered as good few miles on stage, walking from the back to the front of the stage must have worked up quite a sweat and by the time they launched into “Bite My Tongue”, Josh’s coat and hood came down, allowing him to breathe a little! “Spell it Out” from the latest album showed a more stripped back sound, deeper, darker, a more reflective side to them. The track building, gaining momentum, all the while with the audience singing along, a powerful moment indeed. When the guitars finally kicked in, you had yourself an almost head-banging moment which was mirrored by a very active moshpit who let the music wash over them, cleansing their souls.
2011’s “Bite My Tongue” might as well have been sung by the audience, they seemed to know all of the words and it would have given Josh a welcome break! The rousing chorus really doing a great job in getting everyone involved in a BIG way! “Take on the World” from the latest album saw the curtain come down on act one, I think the audience knew there was more to come so stuck firmly in their places, chanting, clapping and generally making a racket only teenagers can do! Their prayers were answered shortly afterwards with the band taking to the stage again for a three song encore consisting of “Lived a Lie”, “Give” and finally “Room to Breathe” lifted from their 2014 album Cavalier Youth which sounded a lot more light and melodic compared to the newer material.
The setlist was a good trip through their back catalogue as well as showcasing half a dozen new tracks from their latest album, it was a mixed bag which went down really well with the audience in Plymouth and looking back at previous shows, it appears they’ve taken a similar approach, I guess the old saying “if it isn’t broken, don’t fixed it” springs to mind! Come the end, both band and fans were utterly spent, both had given it 110% and the adoration coming from the fans was lapped up by an appreciative band who have done amazingly well over the 13 years they’ve been together, let’s hope they continue for many years to come!
Stay With Me
Spell it Out
Bite my Tongue
Fresh Start Fever
Save it for the Bedroom
No One Does it Better
Take on the World
Lived a Lie
Room to Breathe
Review by Steve Muscutt
Photography by Julian Baird