Thursday 10 March 2022

Live Review: Gang of Youths, Bristol O2 Academy 09/03/2022

Following the fervent release of their third studio album 'Angel in Realtime', Australia's Gang of Youths made their very welcomed return to South West England as they took to the stage to headline Bristol's O2 Academy.

Travelling and relentless touring would sure take its toll on most, yet despite regular festival appearances last summer, supporting Sam Fender on his recent UK Arena tour and a string of in-store shows, David Le’aupepe still retained his ever-so-charismatic persona as the band rolled out to The Angel of 8th Ave, all still looking their sprightly selves.

If there's one thing to take note with the new record, it plays right in to the band's euphoric, roof raising temerity and The Man Himself is an excellent demonstrator with its percussive breaks and soaring choruses. Live, it comes in to its own tearing through the crowd at rip-roaring speed.

With just over a week to digest the new hits, fans wasted no time learning the lyrics as they belted out each and every word much to the band's delight. Le’aupepe truly not letting any moment go without showing his gratitude. "You guys have saved me so many times" he echoed. The feeling's mutual.

With the majority of the setlist made up of new songs, there was still time to squeeze in some old favourites with The Heart Is a Muscle and The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows both receiving their equally deserved reaction. Not least to mention Le’aupepe's crowd invading antics that saw him sprawl through the packed out floor during Magnolia.

From where I was stood there didn't look to be a still body in the audience. But that sure didn't stop the effervescent lead singer demanding everyone danced and jumped around to Let Me Down Easy. "If I don't see every single fucking one of you moving I will start the song again, and we will be here all evening" he jested. Being the crowd pleaser he is, of course he stopped and relaunched in to it, ensuring even those at the back had heard the memo. 

Elsewhere, there were touching moments of pure brilliance as forbearance's aspirant chorus drove in to the far reaches of the room. 

At times it's easy to forget the band are only human from their pristine stage presence and systematic instrument playing abilities as they swapped between guitar, strings and keys between themselves, yet it takes Le’aupepe forgetting the lyrics during his solo rendition of Brothers to be that reminder. Second time around and it's equally hard hitting as he conjures up raw emotions recounting the secrets that his late father never revealed to him.

There's numerous moments on the new long player that showcase the band's insatiable ability in switching from rapturous percussion and high strung energy to heartfelt emotion and few capture that just quite like goal of the century. As it bows out with the quietest piano keys and soft vocal echoes the band rounded up with their fiery singalong anthem In The Wake of Your Leave as they walked off stage to an irresistible accapella reprise from the crowd.

When nothing else feels the same no more, you can be sure count on Gang Of Youths to show true ambition and familiarity and there's no denying their passion comes from an intensely real place. They were born to do this and it seems they've found their true calling. Catch them at an Academy sized venue whilst you have the chance before their headlining arenas of their own.

Gang of Youths Played:
The angel of 8th Ave.
The Man Himself
The Heart Is a Muscle
Tend The Garden
spirit boy
Let Me Down Easy

The Deepest Sighs, the Frankest Shadows
What Can I Do If the Fire Goes Out?
goal of the century
in the wake of your leave

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