Yungblud at the Forum
Yungblud is truly occupying the UK on his Occupy the UK tour, playing not only one or two, but five dates at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town alone. After a year away, he’s giving fans what they’ve been waiting for and more.
A timer counts down the seconds, as if this hasn’t been rescheduled enough times already. Rocky Horror Picture Show-style lips appear on screen, their colour red or… strawberry. Sure enough, the opening chords of Strawberry Lipstick call Yungblud to the stage. The platform is a catwalk that has been dosed with nicotine and speed, as he struts to each corner, more fashionable and edgy than most of the crowd in a cropped Joy Division tee and red skirt.
A primal scream that can only be described as teenage girl rings out. This is actually a warm, familiar welcome back. Chants also ensue, with much deeper voices in there, showing that there aren’t only teenagers in the venue. The way the singer humbly smiles, seeming shocked that the fans are actually there to see him, when they take over singing in Parents is appealing. Also refreshing is the way he casually kisses the guitarist – and this is normalised. There’s only a slight cheer while the rest of the crowd barely notice. But this is a staple of a Yungblud show, and there’s nothing much he can do in terms of shock value when the boundaries have already been fully pushed.
Strobe lights and manic drums collide in Superdeadfriends, an electronic banger, with one of its opposites, I Love You, Will You Marry Me?, following. Here, he takes a guitar, showing his versatility. He is a musician, not just a performer. It is good that he is a performer, too, as the conversation between songs feels natural. It is believable when he addresses the audience as a family that he won’t judge, since the guitarist is up there in a full suit without judgment, after all. A slightly stereotypical “fuck you” chant leads into Anarchist. Unlike others, though, he is down with the digital generation and actually encourages people to film a new, unreleased track, named Fleabag. The chorus is so catchy that it catches on after one run through.
There’s no nervousness at all, despite a lack of in-person shows. He completely controls the crowd, like he was born under the red lights, which are definitely his colour. Down to the tambourine in Ice Cream Man, he is colour coordinated. Then he signals the letter L, which could stand for a lot of things – London, lockdown, or, of course, Loner. Again, voices ring out over his, which only get louder when the acoustic guitar comes out for a beautiful rendition of Casual Sabotage. Next, Love Song isn’t romantic or even platonic in this case, it symbolises his love for the audience. Machine Gun is the final encore, and though the audience would unanimously choose to shoot Covid, everyone is back in the venue despite the pandemic. Regardless of a short set that could be extended by adding some older songs to the mix, this is a solid post-lockdown experience.
Photos: Miguel de Melo
For further information and future events visit Yungblud’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Mars here: