Sheffield’s iconic venue The Leadmill has seen many legendary bands play inside its walls and there’s no secret that Yonaka share these lofty ambitions. Making stadium sized pop/rock anthems they are a band who clearly mean to carve their name alongside some of the very best. Fans have flocked to the venue to see them attempt it, and there’s a buzz in the air as the band, riding off the success of their debut album Don’t Wait Till Tomorrow, take to the stage.
Cutting straight in upbeat album cut ‘Punchbag,’ the energy is the room is palatable and the crowd at the front is immediately a churning sea of bodies. Frontwoman Teresa Jarvis, dressed in red boxing shorts with Punchbag emblazoned across the front, prowls the stage, looking eyes with the crowd, egging them on.
Yonaka’s songs are made to be played live with giant fuzzed out chorus’ and heavy pounding bass and drums. At their most intense, like in set highlight ‘Creature,’ it’s enough to get the whole place bouncing and this intensity is shared on stage with guitarist George Werbrouck-Edwards thrashing violently about with every note.
Yonaka are clearly an incredibly tight live band, with most of the songs sounding identical to on record. This is mostly due to Jarvis’ stunning vocal performance, elegant and ferocious in equal measure, which carry the songs the dramatic heights and elicit mass singalongs from the crowd, most notably on ‘All Fired Up’.
The set is moved through at a relentless pace, during which time Yonaka’s fondness for classic pop structures becomes apparent and at times it becomes hard to distinguish between one track and the next. The only surprise on show tonight is an acoustic version of ‘Guilty,’ which, preceded by more mellow EP cut ‘Death by Love,’ makes for a welcome change in intensity half way through.
Deep into their UK tour, their set gives the impression of being well worn, with chat between songs feeling more polished than spontaneous. This has no effect on the jubilation of the audience, however, as they remain buoyant throughout. This is especially true on visceral final cut ‘Fucking With The Boss,’ which sees Werbrouck-Edwards joining the crowd for one final mosh. Drawing the gig to a close in emphatic style they leave the stage, if not as legends, but certainly having delivered a knockout show..
Words: Matt Hives