Yak storms Sheffield

A night that mirrored the band itself, with its chaotic atmosphere and sense of extempore attitude, Yak added another successful date to their rightly-so hyped up tour at the Picture House Social in Sheffield.

Everything that epitomizes a Monday was thrown aside when Yak entered Sheffield. The venue, a seemingly abandoned Cinema with its poorly lit entrance (leading me to find myself backstage with Yak themselves) and carpeted floor was a great fit for the trio. It was unconventional, perfect for Yak.

The night started with great support from LOGS and Goat Girl. Both their sets heightened the excitement and expectation that follows Yak around. Upon the release of highly anticipated debut album Alas Salvation, Yak seem to be on the verge of this syndrome seen frequently in alternative/indie rock music today- which I like to call Catfish and the Bottlemen syndrome. Where bands go from playing small venues and one NME cover later they are charging double for a ticket, wearing leather jackets and changing their accent before praying to a picture of Alex turner before each show (surely Van McCanns pre-show ritual?). Although after Yak’s recent The Last Shadow Puppets tour support, I’m sure the last thing they want to do to a picture of Alex Turner is pray to it. One NME article even likens frontman Oli Burslem to Mick Jagger in look and sound alike. Unlike ‘Catfish Syndrome Bands’ like Blossoms, the hype around Yak has not caused them to suddenly have over-inflated egos and they seem to be as raw and passionate as ever.

There is not a greater feeling when experiencing live music as to when you are proved wrong about a ‘bad’ crowd and support act. Admittedly the ageing crowd didn’t give me much hope but thankfully I was proved wrong when a few strums of Burslem’s guitar caused the crowd to erupt into chaos. They opened with ‘Harbour the Feeling’, the moment when I realised the image I had of Yak’s live performances were not exaggerated. Yak seemed taken aback by the reaction as the crowd shouted ‘HARBOUR THE FEELING’ repeatedly back to the band. ‘Take It’ was also a hectic affair and the first break the crowd got was during ‘Smile’. Burslem’s prolonged, debatably improvised, intro was met by his haunting vocals for this track and he ventured into the crowd for the first time- but not the last. Their album title track Alas Salvation’s catchy guitar riff was repeated on many occasions through Yak’s set, the first coming when the song itself was played.


The gig was plagued by problems that were brushed aside, in fact everyone seemed to enjoy that their night was prolonged and Yak did not leave the stage till midnight. During ‘Heavens Above’ the frontman stage dived whilst playing his guitar which ended in him being strangled by the strap and everyone frantically trying to unplug him, this did not dampen his spirits though and he jumped straight into ‘Victorious (National Anthem)’. ‘This one is about the Tories’ he shouted down the mic before his fast-paced guitar strumming started, it’s as if the government had heard his dedication to them as the power cut out during the next song ‘Use Somebody’. Drummer Elliot Rawson carried on a drum beat and the crowd chanted ‘Use Somebody’. Oli was apologetic and tried to entertain the crowd and one game of table tennis later, he heard the sound of an amp being turned on and he ran back on stage.

Yak ended on ‘Plastic People’, ‘No’ and ‘Hungry Heart’- everyone was thankful the power cut gave them a break as they were not getting a rest during these three songs. Oli’s shouts for mosh pits were respected, like he had to even ask earlier on in the set. ‘Hungry Heart’ was a fitting end to the night and Yak thanked the city, I am almost certain their future tours will include a Sheffield date and they will also be sold out. Out of fear they may suddenly get the recognition they deserve and charge double for their tickets and start to sing about middle class trivia’s, I urge anyone to see them live when they can this year. I doubt Yak will ever break away from their attitude and raw live performances which gives me hope or the future of guitar music.


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