Another day, another gig. Tonight, I’m at the rather wonderful Alexandra Palace to see the continued progress of stadium rock band You Me At Six. The band, who hail from Weybridge in Surrey, released their fifth studio album Night People on 13th January and with it signaled a more expansive sound, befitting of the sorts of arenas they are routinely looking to fill. The Alexandra Palace gig was the last date of a UK tour taking in big spaces such as the SECC, Glasgow and Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. They didn’t quite fill Ally Pally to its 10,250 capacity (the largest standing capacity in London) – the rear ‘wall’ of the Great Hall, a moveable feast that contains the bar was about three-quarters of the way back – but notwithstanding that, there were an awful lot of people in attendance.
To be fair, it’s a minor miracle that anybody gets there at all, since it’s easier to reach the moon via public transport – especially over an Easter weekend that saw most of London’s rail network being attended to by blokes in orange fluorescent jackets rather than actually running any trains. Result: I arrived just in time to see the main support Tonight Alive walking off the stage. First support, Black Foxxes would have been but a distant memory had I actually seen them.
Positioned at one of the highest points in the capital, once you do finally arrive it does however suddenly feel like it was all worth the effort. Nestling in leafy Alexandra Park, there’s a glorious panoramic view of North London looking one way, and the building itself (a fine piece of architecture) looking the other. Inside, the Great Hall where the bands play is cavernous. Despite an attempt to dampen things with giant drapes in the ceiling, it comes as little surprise that the space has the acoustics of an airship hangar. Still, that big hall can accommodate a big stage and You Me At Six took full advantage of it with a very impressive lightshow and a series of confetti canons in the photo pit that looked like they could easily down a battleship. Worryingly, security seemed to have no idea when they were going to go off. I declined the opportunity to stand directly in front of one.
The band opened with Night People, title track from the new release. It’s the sort of song you can sing without knowing any of the words and it got the crowd into the party spirit right from the off. Three songs from the pit concluded with Underdog and Loverboy from albums Hold Me Down and Sinners Never Sleep respectively. The eyebrows got nicely toasted with some tasty pyros but fortunately the confetti canons remained mute. During Loverboy, front man Josh Franceschi beckoned one of the photographers to the front of the pit, took his camera, snapped a few from the stage and then returned it. I wonder how they came out?
I retired to the back of the room to see out the remainder of the sixteen-song set. Whilst obviously, tracks from Night People were favoured, the band played at least one song from every album. I particularly liked Bite My Tongue, another from Sinners Never Sleep. Franceschi dedicated it to ‘the movers and shakers’. It was apt; there was plenty of moving and shaking going down. Fresh Start Fever sounded appropriately angsty and anthemic, whilst songs from the new record such as Heavy Soul had a more commercial feel and generated much swaying of hands and singing of words. The set closed with Take On The World, a song that builds and builds and builds. The audience generated their own lightshow with their phones before the canons at the front finally let rip and gave the Ally Pally clean up staff plenty to get their teeth into.
There were three encores, though I only saw two of them. The long walk to the tube and the four (yes, four) connections required to get home saw to that. Next time lads, any chance of a return to the O2? It’s in everyone’s best interests.
Review & Photography by Simon Reed. You Me At Six at Alexandra Palace on 15th April 2017.
Simon has his own music photography site here: http://www.musicalpictures.co.uk