Say Lou Lou & Years And Years // XOYO // 25.02.14

I have yet to go to a gig in 2014 where the support act has been a disappointment. I discovered the amazing Wild Cub when they opened for The 1975 at the Brixton Academy and on Wednesday I was fortunate enough to stumble across mind-blowing new band Years & Years when they opened for Swedish/Aussie duo Say Lou Lou.


Lead singer Olly Alexander's face may be familiar from his appearance in 2013's Skins Pure where he played an obsessive and peculiar young photographer. Apparently he joined the band in 2010 after guitarist Mikey heard him singing in the shower and reckoned he had a 'good' voice - a bit of an understatement given that Olly's crooning vocals have been compared to those of soul goddess Nina Simone! Their brand of soul infused electronic dance music is utterly infectious and from the moment they launch into their set with 'Take Shelter' the crowd is obviously intrigued.

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With a bassline loud enough to make the room shake it was impossible not to feel yourself beginning to move to their music, whether you wanted to or not. Add to that Olly's snake-like hip movements (I didn't realise boys could move like that!) and it felt perfectly normal to be grinding with the other gig-goers at 8.30pm on a Tuesday night.

The set went from strength to strength, and finished by rolling into their newest single 'Real', from their second EP released by uber-cool French label Kitsune. Olly's chatter between tracks was not what you might expect from a band with this much interest - he declared before the set finished that he was so over excited he might vomit - I'm in love. Despite Olly's protests the boys were extremely professional, slick and well rehearsed and I will definitely be buying tickets to see them again soon!

And now onto the main act...!

This was Say Lou Lou's first sold out London show and the first real opportunity UK fans had to see the enchanting duo live. Years and Years had set the bar pretty damn high and disappointingly I'm not convinced Say Lou Lou quite made the mark. I'm not saying they were bad, they were very good, but they just weren't brilliant. I adore their music and was so looking forward to being transported away into their dreamscape synth-pop world but despite numerous attempts and some great new material, I felt we never really left the runway.

Unfortunately the bass was still so dominant in the room that it was hard to make out alot of the melodies and even when we could, the girls weren't always in tune with each other. I can appreciate that live performances are damn difficult to pull off at times, especially when the record in question is so good, but I would have expected things to have been a little more rehearsed from a band who are well on their way to pop stardom. Oddly enough for twins, the girls barely interacted with one another, although they made powerful impressions as individuals and are both so visually bewitching that it almost made up for the occasional pitch issue.

Hits such as 'Better in the Dark' and 'Beloved' went down a treat with all the smoochy couples in the room, of which there were an uncomfortable amount (eurgh), whilst 'Julian' (I've always wondered whether that song was about Mr. Assange?!) was the biggest crowd pleaser of the night.

In retrospect I might not have been as harsh a critic had Years and Years not been such a hard act to follow and I have no doubt that Say Lou Lou's live sets will improve as time passes. The fact that they still make magical music means this little glitch in my adoration certainly won't stop me from buying all of their music as soon as it's released.