Arriving at the wonderful Night & Day Café in the nick of time tonight, I take my place in the middle of the sizeable crowd, most of which it can be assumed have been here (or at least been out somewhere) for a few hours already. There is a crackle in the air, a frisky, prickly tension. There is a sheet of canvas obscuring the front of the stage, and from behind it comes the sound of the band taking their places. The tension rises further still. I lean into my friend and say, “this might be about to get lively”.

Yak have crammed a lot into their three year existence. The Wolverhampton trio, led by Oli Burslem, have garnered an impressive reputation, both live and on record. They have released an acclaimed album (2016’s Alas Salvation), recorded a single for Jack White’s Third Man Records and they recently collaborated with Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and Jay Watson for a new 7”. Without breaking out into the highest echelons of success, they have quietly cultivated a loyal, in-the-know following, and they have a know-how as a live band that puts them amongst the elite of their contemporaries.

The sheet rises before I can finish the word “lively”, and the onslaught begins. Kicking off with ‘Harbour the Feeling’, the centrepiece of Alas Salvation, they give the crowd the perfect opportunity to let the tension explode into an outbreak of pogoing, cup-throwing and moshpit-shoving. They quickly consolidate the storming start with 2016 single ‘Heavens Above’, which finds Burslem unable to resist getting a part of the action for himself. The crowd carry him aloft as he blisters his fingers across his fretboard in a haze of indulgence. For gigs of this kind, a venue like the Night & Day is unsurpassable.

The night is filled with new songs as much as old, their second album surely not far from materialisation. It doesn’t bother the audience for a moment, though, whose energy is maintained admirably for the set’s duration. The aforementioned Tame Impala production, ‘All I Need Is Some Sunshine In My Life’, which is a cover of a 60s rare soul track by The Dixie Nightingales, gives the band a moment to showcase their flair for melody too, but the break is fleeting, if it was there at all.

You certainly wouldn’t guess that one third of this trio has only been in place for a number of weeks, but bassist Vincent Davis only joined from Hidden Charms in September. The tightness between him and New Zealand drummer Elliot Rawson is as rock solid as a great band could hope for, allowing Burslem as much free range as he decides he needs. His raspy vocals and confrontational frontman persona is classic garage rock in style, and it works. By the time they wrap up the night with their debut single ‘Hungry Heart’, they have wrung everything out of their audience. A vintage performance from a band that we are in danger of letting slip through our fingers if they don’t start playing bigger venues soon.

Yak: Facebook | Twitter

Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.