Photo Gallery & Review By: Kian Earley
Years & Years are a group I have wanted to see live since high school. I remember the exact moment when I first discovered them. Four years later, I finally got to experience their music in person. Arriving hours before doors meant there were only a handful of people in line, the most dedicated fans. As we waited various band members and crew passed through the venue, us holding our breath waiting to see if frontman Olly Alexander would make an appearance. He stopped for a few moments when he saw the line on his way back from an errand, chatting, taking photos, and even making a point to greet the people who were too timid to approach him first.
By the time doors arrived, the little group at the front of the line had been talking for awhile. We exchanged socials and promised to save each other a spot at barricade if one of us got held up with security. The anticipation reached a near fever pitch after we saw the stage setup, empty for now but carrying the promise of a glittering headline performance. Jess Kent started the evening, occupying center stage by herself with only a guitar and small electronic setup as accompaniment. Her set intercut soft acoustics with charged electronic riffs, the latter of which transitioned seamlessly into CYN.
That is the alias of Cynthia Nabozny, an artist on the brink of becoming a household name. With only a handful of singles officially released, she more than held her own as the interlude between Kent and Years & Years. Her bright, confessional pop effortlessly captivated the almost one thousand person crowd. The electric energy radiating from onstage was palpable, making the melancholy performance of “I’ll Still Have Me” especially resonant. Its quiet sadness provided a necessary antithesis to the infatuating rush of the love stories in other parts of her discography.
Olly Alexander had completely transformed by the time he strode onstage. Gone was the quiet, soft spoken man from earlier. In his place was a natural born performer who was instantly magnetic from the moment he started singing. While Alexander is the face of Years & Years, Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Türkmen are the backbone without which it would be incomplete. Their lush, tropical production gives songs an effervescent heartbeat, also forming the framework for the mythology of Palo Santo. “Sanctify” introduced both the show and this world, bookended by the final encore of “King”. Posts I saw afterwards from people I met in line all echoed what I personally felt: this show nearly defied description, exceeding expectations in every possible way.