Into the Pit: 052: The Young Gods – Live at Roadhouse Manchester – 06-December 2007

First, I should mention the support band. A band from the south-west called Undercut, who were really rather good. Not at all the type of band I would expect to see supporting a band like TYG, but maybe that was half the fun. A five-piece alternative rock band, with passing nods in the music to Pixies, Radiohead and more than anything Six By Seven in their angular, spiky approach – and the strange song subjects and lyrics. Opener Close Your Eyes was utterly glorious – yearning vocals twisting into an explosive chorus, A Bit of Education – the new single – was interesting, while the closing throwaway cover of Britney Spear’s Toxic was done in good humour, and perhaps showing they don’t take themselves quite as seriously as it initially appeared. Anyway, in amongst all the identikit indie bands at present, there are a few gems to be found if you look for them: and to me this is one of those.

The Young Gods
Live @ Roadhouse, Manchester
06 December 2007

After the customary gap while everything was removed and then set up for the main event, it was time at last for The Young Gods. It was something of a low-key intro, both unexpected and probably the most obvious opening track of all: Our House, with it’s almost acapella intro before all hell breaks loose as it builds. From that it was straight into newer track Freeze, and that set the scene for much of the night: a big proportion of the set was taken either from recent album Super Ready / Fragmenté or old classic TV Sky.

The Young Gods setlist:
Our House
El Magnifico
Kissing The Sun
About Time
C’est Quoi C’est Ça
Un Point C’est Tout
The Night Dance
I’m The Drug

Encore 1:
Summer Eyes

Encore 2:
The Colour Code

Encore 3:
Super Ready/Fragmenté

Their energy was astounding: for a band now into their third decade of existence, they had more energy and sheer presence than most bands half their age. And indeed, probably had more ideas in individual songs than most bands have in entire careers. An early highlight was the ambient/metal of Kissing The Sun, which sounded fucking huge. In fact, I always loved the entirely appropriate description of it: “…taken to practically apocalyptic levels both musically and lyrically,[it] balances nearly acappella verses from Treichler with crunching riffs that sound like Metallica played by Robotech battlecraft.”

Other highlights were a wholly unexpected The Night Dance (I’d not heard that song in ages – the chorus melody is to die for), newer songs About Time and Everythere sounded even better live than they already did on record, while the main set was closed by an initially unrecognisable Envoyé, rebuilt totally into a techno rush before exploding into the original version for one final chorus, before it descended into a barrage of white noise, leaving that ringing in our ears as they left the stage.

What the band then dubbed as the start of “the second half of the show” – and we would otherwise probably see as the start of the encores – began with all twenty minutes of the truly epic Summer Eyes, while the second encore began with an even odder track: the accordion-based Charlotte. French folk music, basically, and while it doesn’t last long, somehow it doesn’t feel out of place whatsoever. The band’s one and only real “hit” – Skinflowers – didn’t half jar a little following that, but it flowed well into the swirling maelstrom of The Colour Code, underlining just how well the latest album fits into their canon. We even had one last track as a third encore, too: another epic in the form of the title track from Super Ready / Fragmenté, another track that sounded even better live.

I’d waited twelve years or more for this gig, since I first heard of The Young Gods when I was much younger. This delivered on all levels and more – the description of this band as “a rock band with samplers” is really selling them short. They remain pioneers, a band that have refused to follow trends and instead make their own for others to follow, and even after 22 years they still sound fresh, new, and fucking amazing live.

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