Neil Meads

14:21 18th May 2006

Karen O

There are more pirouettes, flashes of knicker, banshee wails, and boundless energy in one song from Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O than most acts cram into a whole tour. Emerging head covered by what appears to be the cloth gypsies use to hide their crystal balls… it’s impossible to take your eyes off her.  When finally mid way through ‘Gold Lion’ she theatrically draws down the cloth, you half expect to be told she see's great wealth and a dark stranger in your future... but no The Forum simply erupts with a couple of thousand people eager to enter the mad world of Karen O.

‘Pin’ follows and is predictably amazing, but ‘Gold Lion’ is a revelation. Hearing the leaked glitched up Diplo remix before the original has the unfortunate consequence of making the recorded version sound like it’s being played by John Peel. Live however it suddenly made sense, fuller, ballsier, with Karen - a picture in gold lame – hyperactively directing proceedings. ‘Honeybear’, ‘Way Out’, ‘Black Tongue’, and the LL Cool-J pilfering ‘Phenomena’ follow an old new old new alternating set list.

Karen O - Yeah Yeah YeahsOh hold on… whats Karen up to now?… gulping down water before spitting a torrent high up into the air and down onto the crowd, showering them in her drisel. However such is the level of adoration on display that those drenched react as if sprayed with holy water. Please Karen you missed me, gob again!

There are distinct camps within the crowd. Down the front girls with bob haircuts and dark mascara, boys with legs flailing as they gleefully crowd surf… or was that the other way round? Meanwhile at the back couples hold hands and murmur appreciation at the beauty of ‘Cheated Hearts’, but emit an almost audible tut to the joyfully bonkers ‘Art Star’. Karen prostrate on the floor swallows the mic while ear piercingly screeching the chorus, only to spring up skipping and manically beaming across the stage for the Sesame Streetesque “Do-Do-Do-Do-Da-Do-Da-Do’s”.

‘Y Control’ proves to be the highlight - an absolute anthem - although to what is contentious. Does it refer to the Y chromosome or to controlling former boyfriends, many plausible theories exist, all of which are of little interest to a crowd indulging in a bout of frenzied pogoing. Surprisingly the unheralded ‘Turn Into’ almost betters this before the encore, and the inevitable ‘Maps’. All bands are destined to have a song from which they can never escape (and perhaps never better) and Maps is that tune. Quite simply genius and this reviewer for one was thankful to escape with bottom lip wobble free.

A perfect way to end an excellent gig was followed by the acoustic strum of ‘Warrior’, a tune for which the word turgid was surely invented, but ‘Tick’ saves the day. Karen miraculously still with energy to spare departs screaming: “We’re the fucking Yeah Yeah Yeahs, fucking thank you Brixton, you’ve been fucking great”.

Karen my foul mouthed friend you’re more than fucking welcome!

Photos by: Simon Leak