Yo La Tengo


The songs that have escaped New Jersey trio Yo La Tengo’s three-decades of eclectic experimentation spin in slow-motion in the form of little silver discs above the stage of Manchester’s Academy 2, and the evening aims to honour the dichotomy between unclouded atmosphere and razor-wire feedback that hangs above them as they enter a game of two halves with themselves – fuelled by the energy of an act who still have everything to prove 35-years into a career that has been impossible to second guess. “Expecting a whisper,” nakedly introduces the suburban-searching of ‘The Crying Of Lot G’, before Ian Kaplan asks the audience to stop and remember that “it isn’t always this way” – speaking directly to the evening of pause, where we are all bathing in the same light the threesome are known to spill all over quiet moments that colour a life spent living small. ‘There’s a Riot Going On’ cut ‘For You Too’ surges with a droning momentum, and sees each member admire each other against propellant fantasies of change – spinning a future of “It’s not too late” for the comfort-fearing “quintessential critics’ band”.

As respectful as the undistracted audience are – silencing those that dare make a sound – no one is fixed in-place. People draw closer to musical moments that are imprinted with fond memories, and farther away from those that are littered with emotions too raw to revisit, with a distinct chasm between audience and artist giving example to this during delicate mood-piece ‘Here You Are’, as the words “we had our run, we’re gone” are cast into the crowd and permeate the air as they once might have a fresh moment of mournful reflection. Yo La Tengo are a companion-like act who are to be lived with rather than sampled, and this evening they have demonstrated an emotional vocabulary that’s as reflected in their pace as it is the band’s long-life, and leads such incendiary works as ‘False Alarm’ to sit comfortably next to the crushing beauty of ‘Nowhere Near’. However, as hard as the selfless devotion of ‘I’ll Be Around’ might be to face, no one is looking away completely. Those that fill the sold-out campus hall would rather stare into an endless distance of what could have been, than turn their backs on the terrible sun.

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James Musker

Music Journalism student and lover of all things sensory and cosmic.