As Years & Years prepare to sanctify the entire O2 Arena I have to ask myself – did I miss something? ‘Take Shelter’ was that one song that played every time you loaded a 17 year old’s Tumblr page circa 2014 and now the group are fledging into the ferocious popstars they were always destined to be. I swear all I did was blink.
Alas, those classic Tumblr gals herding to The O2 tonight will be left disappointed with the absence of both ‘Take Shelter’ and ‘Real’; cult classics that even I’m surprised didn’t make the cut. Sad face, but not for long as the rest of the set is about to get the sweat glands racing.
Two tracks in and the streamers have already gone off for ‘Shine’ so we know we’re in for a good night. Did someone cue pyrotechnics for song three ‘Karma’? Gotta love an arena budget…
“I love staring creepily at everyone,” Olly Alexander states whilst having a stare down with the day ones at the front, “and if I don’t stare at you creepily tonight, please pretend I did.” Of course. Off exits Olly from the stage, returning briefly to the sounds of ‘Palo Santo’ as he levitates into the air accompanied with a full moon backdrop. Pop show production can be so extra and they certainly didn’t hold back – 50 pop show points awarded to Years & Years.
It comes to the section of the set where Mr. Alexander has one of many glam outfit changes. Instead of projecting fake-deep interludes onto the screen, out comes the band’s backing vocalist Phoebe Edwards to take us down a karaoke-esque byway with her cover of Ariana’s ‘No Tears Left To Cry’. I never want to experience an outfit change another way again.
Serenading through ‘Worship’ and ‘Rendezvous’ and it’s starting to get hot in here. Olly adds to the heat with a smooth, “y’all look cute tonight,” please stop flirting. But also please don’t.
The band do the fake-show-ending thing before taking to the stage once more; Olly dripping in gold couture. “I feel expensive,” … “I’m dressed a bit like a Christmas decoration aren’t I?” In kicks my personal fave ‘All For You’ which laces into a surprise Jax Jones entrance where the pair dad dance to new joint track ‘Play’, it couldn’t get any better.
The Palo Santo tour is a coven for the LGBTQ+ community, where the message “be kind, be beautiful” is spread throughout the entire 90 minutes. The set itself acted more as a preaching session with the odd tune thrown in here and there, but the connection between the crowd and Olly, Emre and Mikey make the show feel all the more sacred and secluded from anyone not in attendance.
“This is the best night of my life,” Olly speaks for himself and the rest of the crew. With high energy and compassion the audience brought tonight it was more than likely the best night of a few people’s lives tonight; including the lady two rows ahead of me absolutely going for it, fist in the air for each and every song–ballads and all–the true ally Years & Years never knew they needed up until this moment.
For the thousands of people Years & Years launched into the otherworldly dimension of Palo Santo tonight, I can’t be too sure on how many of them will want to return back to down to Earth. And if they do, they’re already clutching their mouse to book another round trip back, can I buy my tickets in bulk please?