Words & Photography by Paul Boyling
Live at Electrowerkz was an energetic night of indie pop. Opening the night was Sinead O’Brien (not to be confused with the soprano singer of the same name, nor Sinead O’Connor), a close school friend of whenyoung vocalist, Aoife Power. She was a nice warm-up act to ease the crowd into the main support, The Ninth Wave. The synth-pop Glaswegians offered a 1980s indie-revival reminiscent of Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, David Bowie and Duran Duran. Live they blend soft-pop rock and new wave, with a little extra distortion and extra grunge influences; heard through the backing vocals and bass-lines of Millie Kidd and the stellar drumming by Lewis Tollan. Lead vocalist Haydn Park-Patterson truly embodied the ‘80s spirit; especially when resembling a bleach-blonde hybrid of Adam Ant and Boy-George – even performing the captivating movements and gestural swaying – he certainly made sure all eyes were on him; especially when going into the crowd during finale song ‘Swallow Me’. Other stand-out tracks include ‘A Wave Goodbye to the People Who Said I’d Win’, ‘New Kind of Ego’ and ‘Sometimes The Silence Is Sweeter’.
Finally, to a packed room, whenyoung came to the stage to rapturous applause, complete with a front row full of fans wearing band tees. With Aoife Power on vocals and bass, Niall Burns on guitar and Andrew Flood on drums), the Limerick-born-turned-Londoners started off with the hauntingly atmospheric ‘Shiny Things’ (currently an unreleased track), before gently stirring the crowd into excitement with their most popular song, ‘Pretty Pure’. Since seeing them last year at The Great Escape, the band have certainly refined their set with a tighter, more regimented performance, with eagle-eyed stage crew at the ready. They also showcased new tracks off their forthcoming debut LP: ‘A Labour of Love’ and ‘Future’, having announced that they finished the recording at the previous show in Birmingham the night before. Their latest single, (another already-established fan favourite) ‘Never Let Go’ was followed by the acoustic track ‘Sleeper’ – appropriately titled as the band briefly recompose before bursting into the two-fold finale: ‘The Others’ (reflecting over tragedy of the Grenfell Tower fire) and ‘Given Up’ (the fed-up futility of the early mornings and grinding daily nine-to-five worklife).
The immediate appeal of whenyoung’s music is that it isn’t just wistfully hyper-melodic indie pop, but how paradoxical it is aesthetically and compositionally to the content of the lyrics – i.e no matter how seemingly jolly or upbeat the melodies, there’s a subtle darkness lying beneath the surface; or as Aoife puts it:
“There’s definitely a sadness to our songs, even though they might sound upbeat. I think it’s the Irish way… People often put the best face forward and cover up their emotions, but the whole thing of making music is about that cathartic process.”
By Paul Boyling