The five-night Topman CTRL Student Tour boasts some fairly high-profile touring acts alongside promising local bands at smaller venues in Newcastle, Leeds, Exeter and Nottingham. Last night was London’s turn – and we were treated to a nimble show in Southwark’s murky Shunt venue.
Deep in the bowels of London’s medieval history, Shunt is one of those venues that translates from being a fascinating, kooky warren of discovery (packed with bizarre installations and spooky corners – perhaps helped by leaking sound effects from nearby dungeon attractions) to intimate music space readily – but it still needs a good crowd to make it an inviting place to be.
Support for the headliners was provided by London’s Babe Shadow fresh-from BBC Introducing. Londonist had a chat with the band earlier in the week – and they were on top form at Shunt – glorious dreamy harmonies compelling the young audience to close their eyes and dream of drifting summer warmth.
By the time a besuited Keating and the rest of the Yeasayer boys made it onstage, you could smell the anticipation. Backed by a kaleidoscopic glow and blooms of warm light, the deep epic opening of Children let us know they meant business. But the ground covered from there was huge. A set dominated by tracks from the more pop-lead sound of this year’s Odd Blood, we heard Flamenco guitar grooves, cheeky latin percussion riffs and buckets of Anand Wilder’s soaring vocals. ‘Rome’ even hints at a demented Blackpool dance hall organ. For an American pitch perfect pretty boy band they showed surprisingly delicious malice.
Such is the draw of a band who take so much from indie and synth-pop but add their own world influences and OK-Go-esque joyful song writing. ‘World music’ never sounded so juicy, so intense.