Yard Act Live Review in Nottingham Review by EJ Scanlan
Yard Act are one of the most exciting names in British music right now. Their debut EP, “Dark Days” was one of my absolute favourites of the year and their debut album, “The Overload” is one of my albums of the year, and was even the Rough Trade Album of the Month for January 2022.
Tonight, the band play Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms in a very anticipated gig for a variety of people in the independent music scene, and this show for me is incredibly important. This concert will determine for me at least whether these guys will go on to become a true force to be reckoned with in the future, or whether they’ll just be a one-trick pony. Let’s find out…
Let’s start with the setlist, and it’s a pretty strong one. From the opening track, “The Overload” to their finale “Fixer Upper”, the band have some amazing songs in their discography, and they took true advantage of that. I loved hearing the singles such as “Rich” and “Payday” but I also loved a lot of the deep cuts from the debut album, such as “Dead Horse”, “Land of the Blind” and “The Incident”, which was the first time they played the song on this tour. A personal favourite of mine was their performance of “Tall Poppies”, and I’ll get into why that was in just a moment. I was disappointed not to be able to hear the album’s closer, “100% Endurance” being played, but I did like that the setlist was changing consistently every night and that small personal note didn’t take away from the performance by any means.
Moving on to lead singer, James Smith, who really impressed me tonight. His performance throughout was impeccable, the way he didn’t take things too seriously but then delivered a passionate spoken-word piece during “Tall Poppies” to the extent where the whole band was silent as he performed the phenomenally written lyrics was spine-tingling. His interaction with the crowd and the people around him felt unlike anything I’ve seen any artist do, from the way he interacted with the photographers in the press pit, giving them all of the content for the songs they were allocated, to the way he passionately performed every single lyric as if he was on stage at the National Theatre. He would throw his can of water to the floor to make his points heard, it’s unlike any performance I’ve seen in years. What’s more, he never provoked the crowd to mosh or clap, he just did his own thing and let the crowd do theirs. As a result of that, James Smith is well on his way to being an influential frontman in the future.
For me, the strongest part of the whole show was the band chemistry, as it was some of the best I’ve seen in a long time. You can tell that the four-piece were destined to be in a band together, and that is incredibly rare in music. You can tell that these guys genuinely love each other and they help each other excel in what they’re doing. That genuine friendship came across in their show, from the more comedic moments where we saw the band do proper talking sections (like a lot of pop stars do, just not at all cringey) to the band’s actual playing, it was brilliant. They blended perfectly together, and despite them not taking themselves or the music too seriously, they still had so much belief and passion for what they were doing, and it was a breath of fresh air to see. I enjoyed the far-left political statements they were making, which matched their lyrics, but also their discussion on football and their lack of understanding of it, it was great to see. And that’s what I loved about the set as a whole, they weren’t taking it too seriously, it was four lads having a laugh on stage performing their hearts out, and because it wasn’t like anything I had ever heard before, it was fantastic. A particular shout has to go to guitarist Sam Shipstone, who was one of the best guitar players I’ve seen in recent years, and I’m still dumbfounded at his playing, it was incredible.
Overall, Yard Act did spectacularly. The energy and the passion in their performance were amazing, their laid back nature was a refreshing touch to a lot of live shows that I’ve seen recently, they had it all in bucketloads. I want this band to do spectacularly well in the future, and I know they will. Tonight felt like history being made, where in five years time, 450 people will be able to say “I saw Yard Act when they played the Rescue Rooms”, and you don’t get those sorts of moments very often. These guys are going to do some amazing things, and if they keep producing albums to the standard that “The Overload” is and create live performances like tonight, then they’re onto something incredible.
- The Overload (The Overload)
- Dark Horse (The Overload)
- Payday (The Overload)
- Land of the Blind (The Overload)
- The Incident (The Overload)
- Rich (The Overload)
- Dark Days (Dark Days EP)
- Peanuts (Dark Days EP)
- Tall Poppies (The Overload)
- Pour Another (The Overload)
- Witness (Can I Get A?) (The Overload)
- Fixer Upper (Dark Days EP)