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Live Review: Years & Years – 26th May 2022 – OVO Arena Wembley, London, UK

3 min read

English synthpop trio Years & Years, founded by members Ollie Alexander, Mikey Goldsworthy, Emre Türkmen, achieved major success with the release of their first studio album Communion in 2015. It debuted at number one on the UK singles chart and spawned several hits including the number one King, as well as Shine which peaked at number 2 on the UK charts. Another album, Palo Santo, followed in 2018 and it also spawned several hits and a world tour. In 2021, the band announced the release of their third album, and at the same time the departure of Goldworthy and Türkmen meaning the band would now be a solo act for Alexander. The third album, Night Call, was released 7 January 2022 and is being supported by a mostly European tour with the addition of 2 stops in the US, and 2 in Australia. The tour kicked off on Brighton, and we caught the 26 May show at a very packed Wembley Arena in London

The show started at around 9pm with a fairly stripped back set that included a huge video screen at the back and not much else. Throughout the roughly 90-minute set, various props were brought out for the different acts of the show starting with some 1980’s style phone booths for the opening song Night Call. Dressed in a black leather trench-style jacket and glossy black thigh-high boots, Alexander sported a short mohawk haircut and bleach blonde eyebrows. His 5 backup dancers dressed in similarly styled black leather barely-there outfits, giving the show a decidedly sexy S&M vibe. The rest of the first act included the dancey Galantis-produced Sweet Talker from the new album, as well as one of the bands biggest earlier hits, Shine. For the second act, Alexander removed the trench coat to reveal he was wearing some denim short-shorts (but still the thigh-high glossy boots) to sing Muscle, Play, and Sunlight, his 2014 collaboration with DJ The Magician which included an acapella ending the crowd really enjoyed along with some extremely sexy twerking from the backup dancers.

As the show progressed, the stage props were swapped to some very sleazy bathroom stalls that anyone who has ever been to a nightclub in London would appreciate. This act included Sanctify, Desire, and Hallucination, the post-release collaboration with DJ Regard about a dishonest lover, and some VERY sexy dancing. Though Alexander is clearly the star of the show, this act made me realize that there is definitely a costar- the choreography. I was pleasantly surprised to see a quirkier, more contemporary dance style that gave the show a more interesting, unrestrained feeling. It was a little unexpected for me (though perhaps it shouldn’t have been) but I really loved it.

For the next act, Alexander came out wearing a very long, flowing cape. Playing the piano and accompanied by his 3 backing vocalists, he did gorgeous renditions of 20 Minutes, Eyes Shut, and It’s a Sin (the Petshop Boys cover). This emotional segment really showed off his incredible musical talents and the vocals were truly stunning (Alexander’s vocal range is amazing); closing the portion of the set with Crave and Starstuck which really got the crowd going.

Closing the show with an encore of If You’re Over Me (from Palo Santo) and their biggest hit, King, Alexander proves that, despite the loss of two members, he is more than capable of leading Years & Years as a solo act.

Setlist:
Night Call
Sweet Talker
Consequences
Sooner or Later
Shine
Muscle
Play
Sunlight
Sanctify
Worship/Rendezvous
Desire
Hallucination
Up in Flames
Here
20 Minutes
Eyes Shut
It’s a Sin (Pet Shop Boys cover)
Crave
Starstruck

Encore:
If You’re Over Me
King