Concertverslag: Yeasayer in de Melkweg The Maxx, 29 oktober 2010
Do you guys remember Bez? Bez was the non-instrumentalist, non-vocalist member of the Happy Mondays. On stage Bez was given a set of prop maracas, on cd booklets he was credited ‘Bez – Bez’. Basically Bez was there to supply the drugs and to do the dancing, something he wasn’t schooled in but did with great conviction and charisma. (Madness used to have a similar position filled by Chas Smash, who in fact could play several instruments fairly well, but for some reason wasn’t allowed to).
Musically Brooklyn-based worldbeat quintet Yeasayer are as complete as a band can be. Yesterday in the Melkweg Maxx however, the symbolic empty space in the middle of the stage showed that performance-wise they are in great need of a Bez. Singer/Keyboard player Chris Keating reminds me of a Djembe lesson I took some years ago with some colleagues. One of them missed the beat on every single occasion, to which the teacher reacted: ‘it’s not that you’re not musical, it’s just your motor skills that suck.’ Keating must be outrageously musical, but on the reversed scale of dance skills, that runs from Michael to Joe Jackson, he scores nine and a half.
An edge that Yeasayer have over most indiebands is that they have a decent singer in Keating and an excellent singer in guitarist/keyboardplayer Arnand Wilder, who adds some Indian spices to Yeasayers’ recipe of European electronic music and African rhythms, especially on O.N.E. and Madder Red. You would expect Yeasayer to make good use of their infectious rhythm section, consisting Ira Wolf Tuton on bass, Jason Trammell on drums and Ahmed Gallab on percussion and keys. Yesterday the emphasis was more on Wilders and Keating’s quirky electronics, showing more of Yeasayer the experimental rockband than Yeasayer the creators of timeless dance tracks like Ambling Alp, Rome and O.N.E. (yesterdays Zenith). Tracks that more than anything else reminds me of early Erasure. If you average Wilders’ and Keatings’ voice what you end up with is Andy Bell.
Andy Bell, who incidentally released his debut solo CD earlier this year, is a bit of a performer whereas Yeasayer are a weird bunch, really. More interesting to look at than entertaining. Stage left: Wilder looking like he just did a scene in the Bollywood adaptation of Do the Right Thing. Stage right: Tuton, who used to look like a member of Fleet Foxes, but nowadays resembles someone you expect to partake in the English Defence League demonstration held in Amsterdam today. Centre stage some five meters from the front: a sympathetic Chris Keating chatting about disco balls, but at the same time making our eyes bleed with involuntary movement. (God, lets hope it’s involuntary.)
Yesterday was Yeasayers umptiest concert in Holland this year and tonight in Tivolo will be their umptiest + one. So understandably it was a short set of 13 songs including encores, most taken from Odd blood. Did we mind? Not really, the eyes tire sooner than the ears.