Years and Years @ Arena Birmingham, 30th November 2018

The cold, dark night was broken up by glitter and sequins, the queue outside of Birmingham Arena morphing into a rainbow of colours and shine. A mirror of what was to come at the Years and Years show. The British synth-pop rock band has become a mainstay on the radio and charts, wooing fans with their amalgamation of sound that produces good energy vibes. At Birmingham Arena Years and Years flooded the room with electricity, mixing their upbeat synth-pop records with a lively stage show.

A dystopian intro welcomed the audience to Palo Santo, the name of a fictitious universe that not only titles their tour but also their most recent album. As the background imagery turned to a sun blurred landscape the sultry R+B pop intro of ‘Sanctify’ ripped through. Like visual art the band ascended to the stage complete with dancers, the song morphing into a stunning display. The song ended to thunderous applause starting the night off with a bang. 

Pulsating drums brought ‘Shine’ to life, the rhythmic song emphasized by the inclusion of new dancers. As front man Olly reached high into his falsetto the song bloomed, a morphing dance tune rooted in the R+B feel. Electro pop rock hits ‘Karma’ and ‘Meteroite’ threw the crowd into frenzy, the excitement building as the anthemic songs brought everyone up onto their feet. 

A lull in the high energy, ‘Eyes Shut’ started with a single piano. As Olly, dressed in a nude coloured long sleeve with tattoo images, took to the keys the sweet chords were backed by the atmospheric instrumentals, bringing a lovely sort of calm to the arena. This calm lasted only a short minute, with electricity ‘Lucky Escape’ blasted through. The dance pop rock vibe continued as ‘Gold’ and ‘Desire’ filtered through.

Olly, dressed in a long silver dress, was hoisted into the air as ‘Palo Santo’ filtered through. The song utilizes obvious religious imagery, mirrored on stage as the dancers took worship stances below the floating singer. As Olly was once again lowered to the stage ‘Ties,’ with its groovy pop, and rock edged ‘Preacher’ brought the crowd to life. Reaching back into the electro pop sound ‘Hallelujah’ created a club like atmosphere as the crowd and the stage dancers moved to the beat. 

Displaying the incredible band that accompanies them, Years and Years took a short respite, letting their backing vocalist cover mega hits ‘No Tears Left to Cry’ and ‘Like a Prayer.’ 

Emerging out of a lightbox a shirtless Olly broke the Years and Years exit with retro rock tinged ‘Worship.’ As the stage turned a shade of red pumping synth-pop ‘Rendezvous’ was a clear fan favourite, everyone buzzing as the intro chords rang through. ‘If You’re Over Me’ rounded out the set with pop rock ‘All of You,’ and mega hits ‘Play’ and ‘King’ rounding out the encore.    

Years and Years have been known to curate sparkling sets that compile their electric music with a flurry of sights and sound, creating an explosion of energy. Their Birmingham Arena show certainly lived up to the rumours. Years and Years created a transformative evening, pairing synth-pop sound with engaging visuals and performances, leaving fans breathless. 

Reviewer: Kylie McCormick

Photographer: Sophie Jones

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