WORDS AND IMAGES BY DESH KAPUR
“Give it everything you’ve got knowing that you can’t take it with you/And all you ever needed to exist has always been within you”
Heading to one of my favourite parts of Liverpool tonight, The Baltic Triangle, and a little venue down a side street called “District’ for a band that is new to me, YARD ACT. One of my closest friends told me to check them out quite a while back and since then, their profile has been on the up and up.
Yard Act hail from Leeds, comprising James Smith (vocals, lyrics), Ryan Needham (bass), Sam Shjipstone (guitar) and Jay Russell (drums). Their debut album ‘The Overload’ was released on 21 January 2022 and debuted at number 2 on the UK Albums Chart. Think of them as Post-Punk Indie, a bit like Idles, Goat Girl and Sports Team.
So here we are, the venue is small, but feels great, the crowd seem older than I thought they would be, but the excitement is tangible, and the stage is dark and small. I just know that this is going to be good.
No lights going off and intro music here, the band walk on, exchange a few pleasantries with the crowd and crack on with the reason we are here – the music.
Like a preacher from the pulpit, frontman James Smith reminds me a lot of Jarvis Cocker, Pulp’s enigmatic frontman, as he gives his sermon to the gathered congregation in front of him. Backed up by the sharp math driven guitar work of Sam Shjipstone, the unembellished groove of the bass and drums, it was hypnotizing; the crowd hanging on to his every word. It’s The Fall, it’s Dr John Cooper Clarke, and it’s Talking Heads.
All through the gig, James Smith engages effortlessly with the crowd. Funny, witty and sharp as a razor, Smith’s energy is contagious. Smith, swigging something straight from a jug, may be the focal point of everyone’s attention, but that would be undervaluing the rest of his bandmates. Yard Act are the sum of all their parts, bassist Ryan Needham, drummer Jay Russell and guitarist Sam Shjipstone are tight and on point from start to finish.
Every one of the tracks played seems harder, edgier and angrier versions of their recorded counterparts, the use of the spoken word as a delivery platform is the defining characteristic of the songs they write, and they regale us with comments and insights on post-Brexit Britain and the Torys.
And 45 minutes later, it’s all over. I heard a comment from one punter, “that was amazing, but they won’t be back, they don’t have many songs” which as well as making me laugh, also reinforces the fact that this band is still quite new and that is exciting, I can’t wait to see what they do next. But take it from me, go and see them while you can in a small dark tight venue because you won’t have the chance for much longer, and with that said, I like Yard Act a lot, call it post-punk, alt-rock, or indie, in fact, call it what you want, but I call it fucking excellent.
1/ LAND OF THE BLIND
2/ WITNESS (CAN I GET A?)
3/ DARK DAYS
5/ POUR ANOTHER
6/ FIXER UPPER
7/ TALL POPPIES
9/ OVERLOAD ENCORE
10/ DEAD HORSE
11/ THE TRAPPERS PELTS
FOLLOW YARD ACT