Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Sign

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Sign

Tonight’s not your typical gig, there’s no official tickets or fancy venue; simply an email stating the address, my host for the evening and the option to bring a cushion and a few beers. I have gin in a tin and no soft furnishings; I hope they let me in.

I find a rather pleasant looking house, with a simple sign, stuck on the front that reads, ‘CYHSY’ and I make my way through a half built garage.

What makes a top music experience? You know the type, it’s the gigs that make you a little giddy. Watching it, you want it to last forever and for a few days after, it leaves you feeling pretty, fucking tip-top. Is it first and last times; going nuts in the middle of a field on a Friday afternoon; long-awaited comebacks, circle pits and bruised ribs, your favourite album in a majestic theatre, or is it rocking out under the stars?*

Of all the gigs I’ve been to in my life, I don’t think any of them consisted of me legging it down a road in South Manchester trying to find the venue, armed with just Google Maps and a postcode to help me. Alright I lie; I took the bus for the last quarter of a mile.

At the beginning of April, indie-rockers, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah put the call out for folk from the UK & Europe to host some of their gigs. The spec wasn’t exhaustive; simply a chair, some nice lighting and a 50-person capacity. Oh and a living room. Since January, lead CYHSY dude Alec Ounsworth has been on an epic fifty-date journey across the world playing in people’s front rooms. The tour coincides with the band’s first release in three year’s “Only Run”.

My favourite gigs, all have one thing in common, and it’s not down to the venue or its décor, the fine company you keep at the time, where you are in the world, or sometimes, even the performance itself. It’s a combination of all the above (and more), it’s the ones that make the little hairs on your arm stand on edge, it’s the experience. I once got bottled by accident at Stereophonics gig, and even though I was pissing blood out of my head, it still turned out to be pretty memorable. Riding around Donnington Race Track in an ambulance, probably had something to do with it.

Tonight in Manchester is his Alec’s only UK date outside of London. Our host on this warm, early summer evening, gathers everyone in his back garden. There are about 30 people here, swigging bottles of cider, cans of lager and making little chit chat before Alec arrives. When he does, there’s no entourage, label people, management or press, just him, his rucksack and a guitar.

Most of all it’s the small, intimate venue gigs that does it for me. Such as, bagging a front row seat at an 80 capacity venue whilst Richard Hawley has to stand at the back, watching a man in a pig mask playing guitar in a bank vault or sitting cross-legged in a conservatory on Thursday night, listening to acoustic versions of all your favourite songs.**

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Alec takes to the….corner of a back room in this guy’s house, on a little stool and people pile in. I’m a little too enthusiastic and take a pew right at the bloody front. This is a stupid move for me; I’m supposed to be writing a review. When you’re sitting an inch from the performers face, with just 30 people in the room, whacking a pad out to make notes is going to be just a tad off putting for the guy singing, Also see: Making notes on your phone. I’m just going to have to do this from memory and that’s proper fucked, so just bear with me on this one.

Alec opens with Into Your Alien Arms from the bands last release Hysteria; a captivating five minute long story. The set’s not just a showcase of the new album, but peppered with tracks from the bands four album discography, much to the sheer delight of this lucky few tonight. Ok, so it’s more of a hushed whoop, than roaring cheers, but you’ve got to think of the neighbours, as this is quite a nice area of Manchester.

What makes this so lovely is that each song is taken to whole new level when it’s stripped back, minus full band and production. Mama, Won’t You Keep Castles In The Air And Burning from 2007’s Some Loud Thunder gains a sense of personal intimacy. In between he shares candid stories of Mancunian fake merch vendors and our raucous crowds.

He explains that “he works hard on his lyrics” and they just shine through tonight, with his trademark quirky, vocals. Despite me being almost sat on his knee, I struggle a few times to make out the words. But who cares? It’s not very often you get to watch a gig and hear the birds tweeting outside. I even get up and watch a bit from outside, because how often nowadays can you smoke a cig and listen to some quality live music?

This maybe his 50th Living Room gig, but he plays each track with pure feeling, often with his eyes tightly shut. His rendition of Is This Love is just the perfect example of this. Equally so from the same debut, self-titled album is Over and Over Again and Upon This Tilde Wave, to What Fun from his solo outing Mo Beauty is just, wow. It’s like he can be a little more creative with the music without his boys behind him.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Set List

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Set List

I don’t think I’ll be able to listen to CYSY’s album, Live at Lollapalooza the same ever again. The simple, beautiful rendition of Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth is the goose bumps moment of the night for me.

This gig works beautifully, but this living room gigging shouldn’t become a ‘thing’ though. It’d just manifest into hosts outdoing themselves with sound systems, fancy toilet paper and line-ups. Before you know it, everyone’s become a mini Michael Eavis and they’ll be rumours that The Rolling Stones are playing a semi in Ancoats.

After the show, Alec has a beer and a cig with the audience. He tells me how he’s just jumped off the train from a heavy night in Paris and after a few dates in London this adventure is complete. I ask for his handwritten set list to help me remember everything I’ve just seen and to write this g’dam thing. He asks me for me not be as hard on him, as he is on himself when it comes to looking back on his own performances.

I leave the gig and skip down the road I ran up earlier on the way here. Maybe it’s the gin. But most probably it’s because I’m feeling pretty fucking tip top after my very special experience tonight.


A big thank-you to Anthony and missus who hosted. You welcomed 30 randoms in your lovely house and let them use your toilet too.

Straight from the horse’s mouth, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah hit the UK sometime in October.
Only Run – out 3rd June

* #1 Pulp, Sheffield Arena, ’12 /The Postal Service, Manchester Academy ’13 #2 Passion Pit, Bestival ’09 #3 Stone Roses, Heaton Park 2012 /  Take That, Ethiad Stadium,  ’11 ( FYI, the one when Robbie came back – incredible) #4 Less Than Jake, Manchester Apollo ’06  #5 Iron & Wine, Opera House ’13, #6 The Joy Formidable, Solfest ‘13
**#7 Sweet Baboo, Manchester ’12,  #8 Micah P Hinson, Lantern Theatre, Sheffield ’12 #9 See above.

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah


Co-founder, Producer and Presenter of the weekly Silent Radio show. Part of the Silent family since 2010.Over 10 years experience of working with national, award-winning youth charities and in the creative industries. She’s the former Deputy Director of, Europe’s leading promoter of emerging creative talent. Here she helped secure new creatives secure massive media exposure (BBC R1, 1Xtra…), showcases at mega impressive locations (Downing Street, V&A...) and kudos from the best in the business (Brian Eno, Boiler Room, Peter Saville…).She also flies the flag for women in the media as Director of Manchester’s independent music website Silent Radio and co-Founder, Exec Producer and Presenter of the Silent Radio show on MCR.Live; Further radio includes BBC 5Live, BBC Radio Manchester, plus the odd bit of TV Production Management with international broadcast credits (BBC, ZDF / Arte, Smithsonian…), she also dabbles with playing records to people and her first podcast is currently in pre-production.Bestest gigs: Pulp, Sheffield Arena, ’12 | Micah P Hinson, Sheffield Lantern Theatre, ’12 | Dream Themes, Manchester Star & Garter, ’14 | Patrick Watson, Manchester Gorilla, ’15 | Less Than Jake, Nottingham Rock City, ‘01 | Frightened Rabbit, Manchester Deaf Institute, ’12 | The Decemberists, Manchester Academy, ‘11 | Passion Pit, Manchester Academy 2, ‘09 | Iron and Wine, The Ritz, Manchester, ‘08 | The Verve (with Beck), Wigan Haigh Hall, ‘98 | Take That, Manchester Eastlands Stadium, ‘11 |Worst gig: Fall Out Boy, Manchester Roadhouse ’05 (subject to change)