Years & Years

Last night I saw Years & Years in concert in Munich, and OMFG WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. I’m going to indulge myself and fangirl for a few hundred (thousand?!?) words.

Look, if you’ve kept up to date with my blog posts, or remember me rhapsodising on Twitter when Meteorite came out, then you’ll know how much of a fan I am. Enjoying the concert was a given.

Only, there was a slight doubt in my mind. Sometimes singers aren’t great live, and if the vocals can’t carry off the songs outside of a recording studio and autotune, then paying for a live performance is a waste of money. SO GLAD to say this doubt is firmly eradicated. I mean, in a way, Years & Years are better live. Olly’s voice is a lot smoother and more vibrant.

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Also, his personality came through more on stage – I find his video performances to be quite intense and dramatic, but in person he’s actually bubbly and sweet. Examples:

*silence during a song set up*
Audience member: OLLY WE LOVE YOU!
Audience: *cheers*
Olly: I love you too! I love all of you! Ich lieb . . . actually, I don’t know how to say ‘I love you’ in German.
Audience: *shouts German at him*
Olly: Ich liebe . . . auch? [Eng: I love . . . too?]
Audience: *laughter*
Audience: *shouts German again*
Olly: Oh, ich liebe euch? [Eng: I love you. Here, ‘you’ is plural, ie addressing a group of people. This is more appropriate than ‘dich’ which is ‘you’ singular]
Audience: *cheers*
Olly: *throws his arms wide* ICH LIEBE EUCH!
Audience: *goes nuts*
Olly: Thank you for the German lesson!

Olly: I keep meaning to explain what the songs mean before I sing each of them, but honestly, most of my songs are about, uh, boys *abashed smile*

Olly: I just have to say *points at a guy in the audience* you, you’re wearing this bright neon orange outfit and you really stand out, I keep looking at you. You definitely got my attention!
Neon orange guy: *thumbs up*
Olly: Sorry, I’ve probably really embarrassed you.

Olly: *pulls a rainbow flag from somewhere and wraps it around himself*
Olly: *struggles with the flag for the rest of the show because the wind fans on the stage keep blowing it off him*

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the only decent pic I got of the flag. this was All For You

Olly: *dances like no one’s watching*

He brought what I can only describe as pure twink energy to his performances. It added an extra flirty, fun, suggestive edge that I (personally) don’t see in the recorded versions of the songs, which was a great change.

Mikey and Emré did their usual thing of focusing on the music and grinning every now and then, which was a fun counterpoint to Olly’s high energy. The woman on drums was freaking excellent – holy shit, she killed those things. And the backup singers were nothing short of incredible. They did mashup solos in the middle of the gig and holy shit they’re talented. Wonderful all around.

The art direction was great too. Their props, costumes, and backdrop were straight out of the Palo Santo world, giving everything a weird dystopian, trippy vibe.

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I’ve been to a few concerts, but this is the first one where I had a super strong connection to the music. These guys were the backdrop to me facing down some shitty stuff in my life and in my head while writing Blank Spaces, then, with Palo Santo, me experiencing a new life in a new country. This band is so interwoven with some of the most important chapters of my life that I can’t imagine not ever knowing their songs. When I’m ancient and can’t remember what I did three seconds ago, I’ll remember the lyrics and melodies of their songs. When I’m dead, I want their music at my funeral. To see them perform live was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I don’t regret a single penny or minute spent in organising this.

To illustrate: I didn’t drink anything, I actually missed a meal because I didn’t time things right and wasn’t hungry anyway, [TMI alert] had epic period pain, ended up standing for 3 hours (danced and sang too) and realised afterwards my legs were numb, but I still had the best time. The buzz lasted hours afterwards. It was truly amazing. There is nothing like hearing the music you love being played live. There’s something I want to articulate about being so in the moment, so involved in the music and your own memories, but also adding this memory and this joy to the mix in your head – I don’t know if I have the words. It was joyful. I felt so connected with life and reality, the past and the future. Everything was wonderful and will be wonderful. I swear to god I didn’t take anything.

They played nearly all my faves – the only one missed was Memo, which was a shame. I also found out they did a collaboration with Jax Jones, Play, and honestly, after listening to the official version, I think I prefer the song live without autotune, so I’m glad I heard it that way for the first time last night. However, they ended with King, which was perfect because, god, that song, that song. Imagine belting out your favourite tune – the song you love and can’t ever get sick of, the song that encapsulates so much and reminds you of so many wonderful things, the song that just resonates on your deepest level – with several hundred other people and the band that brought that song into existence, after hearing all your other favourites . . . if I hadn’t been so happy, I would’ve cried.

Then I walked back to my Airbnb, crunching through the snow and humming the entire way. My Airbnb hosts and their additional guest were up drinking wine and chatting, so I joined them for an extra hour or so before heading to bed.

It was, honestly, one of the best evenings I’ve ever had.

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