You just knew Yard Act would do the right thing. This gig was originally booked for 2 March but had to be rearranged due to illness. In the intervening months Yard Act have played SXSW, too many other festivals to list, become best mates with Elton John and just this week been Mercury Music Prize nominated for their debut album The Overload which reached No. 2 on the UK album charts. They have already played 100 gigs this year and are riding the crest of a wave. As a result this rearranged gig could have been moved up to a bigger venue such was the demand. They could have sold out The Caves four times over. Lucky for ticket holders they honoured the original gig venue, of course they did, this is Yard Act.
First onstage in The Caves was Baba Ali who have the honour of the first non-Yard Act 7″ vinyl release on Zen F.C., the label run by Yard Act’s James Smith and Ryan Needham. Baba Ali began as a solo project for New Jersey native Babatunde Doherty. Relocating from New York to London he is now joined by British guitarist Nik Balchin. Already featured in The Guardian as One To Watch, they play synth funk dance music, the perfect warm up for Yard Act. The aforementioned double A single ‘Living It Up / Black & Blue‘ is the best place to start to explore this band further. Their debut album Memory Device included involvement by Hot Chip‘s Al Doyle, such is the talent of this band. Their music is beats driven and it was simply impossible not to dance. One point of note, Yard Acts Ryan and drummer Jay were in the crowd watching the support. Class.
The excitement though was palpable as the clocked ticked round to 9pm. There was disbelief that Yard Act were to appear on such a small stage. And all of a sudden they were in front of us, blasting onstage with all guns blazing from the get go. Yard Act were fresh as a daisy with no signs of over-touring or illness. You would have thought this was the first gig of the year, not their 100+. Ever the showman lead singer James did surprise the crowd by ripping up the set-list and proceeded to state that this would be an all request show. The rules were laid out “There is a curfew” and initial cries of “Elton John” and “Warmduscher” led to James reminding everyone “You’re wasting time”. The party then got into full swing with ‘Pour Another’, ‘Witness’ and ‘Land of the Blind’. The latter song traditionally leading to a flurry of 50ps being thrown onstage. Edinburgh managed a paltry £13.50, a flyer and a voucher for a drink elsewhere!
Ryan had heard a request for ‘Tall Poppies‘ a song which they said they hadn’t played for months, and yet this lyrically complex emotional song was delivered word perfect, a goose-bumps moment. What comfort in their own skin Yard Act exhibit. The four members smoothly handling the unpredictability of this format. They have found a balance between cynicism and self-deprecation, managing to keep all onside yet opinionated and open. Self aware enough to realise that the music industry is a fickle mistress. They may be the band of the moment, but it will inevitably be a temporary state. So they are going to enjoy every single second. Quite right.
‘100% Endurance’ was followed by ‘Peanuts‘ and another opportunity for audience participation. Joe bounded onto the stage when James asked if anyone knew the words to finish the song. With shouts of encouragement from the crowd plus a few prompts from James, he got to the end:
“But we’ll all understand
It takes real guts to fake being nuts
And it takes real nuts to break fake guts”
‘Rich‘, ‘Dark Days‘ and ‘Payday’ closed out the show. By now the moshpit was going hell for leather and James even took a moment to make sure everyone was ok. No time was to be wasted with the palaver of going off and coming back on for an encore. The gig time was always going to be precious and thus maximised. And then it was over. A blissful hour of exhilarating music delivered with humour and an energy belying the arduous tour schedule. The bond and interaction with the crowd was extraordinary. Yard Act we salute you. Thank you for giving us a night to remember.
Yard Act will continue touring for the rest of 2022 with dates in the UK, EU and USA.
For full details please check out their website.