Live Review: Yard Act / Gustaf – Brighton Dome, Brighton 25.03.2024

Henry Groves

By Henry Groves

The uprising of Yard Act has been a rapid one and Brighton showed that off as well as any city. From playing a sold out Patterns only 2 years ago, the band were back playing the spectacular Brighton Dome. I for one was incredibly excited for this show, which led to me getting to Brighton well before even the doors opened, and over an hour before the support, Gustaf, came on but I knew this was going to be an incredible night.

By the time Gustaf came on, the crowd had started to pack out for the NYC rockers, with some even cheering and screaming towards the band as they came on the stage. Ever since I heard their debut single ‘Design’, this was a band I was dying to see and they put on one hell of a support slot. The crowd were truly warmed up, mostly from the energy of Gustaf’s frontwoman who danced, jumped and pretty much ran around the stage throughout their set. Although I am not sure if the crowd were focusing more on her or Gustaf’s percussionist who worked through a number of different “instruments” including a can of corn, a rubber chicken and a wooden block, as well as a plethora of others. They played through songs off their debut album ‘Audio Drags for Ego Slobs’ as well as new singles, and the crowd loved every minute. I am sure it won’t be long until Gustaf are back on their own UK tour and I am sure a number of the fans there that night will be going along.

Due to the length of Gustaf’s set, the Yard Act set was pushed back by 15 minutes, which made the already excited crowd more restless and eager for the band to come on stage. This meant as soon as the lights dimmed, the crowd roared almost immediately as the band took to the stage. The band opened with ‘An Illusion’, the opener to their most recent album “Where’s My Utopia?” And with even more energy than for Gustaf, the crowd were dancing. What got me about the Yard Act show, as they played songs from their latest album, was how much of a true fan base they had developed. At a lot of shows, you can tell the people who have been brought along by friends, or fancied a night at a gig and had heard a couple of the bands songs, but Brighton Dome was rocking from the barrier all the way back past the unreserved seating to the back wall. Their debut album for me was one of the best of 2022, but their latest release with a bit more of a disco feel, had met the already high standards the band had made for themselves. Not only that, but how it translated live was truly outstanding and I have had ‘We Make Hits’ playing in my head nonstop for the past few days. 

Midway through the set, as they got heckled from a fan about a previous Brighton show, they pulled out a wheel and got the bloke on stage. Rather than pick a song from their debut EP, each night the band pulled out a wheel and got a willing member of the crowd to come and spin it. Brighton was graced with ‘Fixer Upper’ which is a personal favourite of their early work, but I am going to be honest, I think the crowd would have been equally happy with any of the picks. What has changed in the Yard Act uprising was the addition of backing singers/dancers. At times it gave Self Esteem vibes with Lauren Fitzpatrick and Daisy J T Smith moving from their place at the back to join James at the front, showing off their singing and choreographed dance routines at the front. I was unsure if this was something that would improve a Yard Act show but it truly added to the performance and made the show even more memorable. 

As they worked through their setlist, the energy from both the band and the crowd did not let up. Their set ended with ‘Payday’, ‘The Overload’ and ‘A Vineyard for the North’ before the band left the stage. But as soon as they started walking off, cheers and chants for the band to return started almost as instantly as the cheers at the start of the set and it wasn’t long before they returned. Their encore comprised of ‘100% Endurance’ and ‘The Trench Coat Museum’, with Gustaf joining them as extra dancers for the latter. 

I have seen Yard Act play some phenomenal shows before, but this had blown all expectations out of the water. Their uprising is truly deserved, and they continue to get better and better each time they play. They had a big sign on stage for their latest album “Where’s My Utopia”?. Well on that night, it was definitely in the Brighton Dome watching that show and I am not sure there will be any gig that will beat that for the rest of the year (well unless they tour again). 

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