The career of a rising musician has many hurdles. Having released his self-titled 3rd album in 2022 Dominic Harrison, aka Yungblud, failed to succumb to second album syndrome and now faces his next obstacle, how to transition from playing venues that hold a few thousand to arenas that hold over 10,000 night after night.
The challenge is especially tricky when you consider what Yungblud stands for. Poster boy for misfits, oddballs, rejects, freaks and outcasts his previously much smaller shows prided themselves on creating a sense of community and family for a night, where the minorities could feel in the majority.
It’s a challenge he addresses directly himself between songs tonight by admitting his biggest fear about playing rooms so large was if he’d still be able to feel close to the crowd. “You’re Yungblud!” he exclaims, a moment before he enters the crowd, climbs the stairs into the lower tier and finds a vantage point to end fleabag, “you don’t mind if I stand on your chair do you?”
His stage dressing does its best to create a far less glamorous, more industrial setting that is in keeping with the music on offer. More like a derelict factory than one of the UK’s premier venues. The set up doubles down on this vibe as a grimy looking toilet and sink adorn a smaller second stage that sits in the middle of the arena. “The ego stage” as one of the more sceptical attendees in ear shot dubs it. Unfortunately scepticism is something Yungblud has had to become accustomed
A near constant criticism that has followed Yungblud throughout his career is one that attempts to doubt his legitimacy. Much like the dirty bathroom that currently sits in the middle of the AO arena it seems people can’t help to wonder if everything that Yungblud is presenting them with is somewhat staged.
Is he genuine or is he advantageous? His merchandise is emblazoned with “Be Yourself or Die Trying”. Some disparagers would remark that’s easy for him to say as for some segments of society it’s a remark that has the potential to cut a little too close to the bone.
What is evident from tonight’s show and crowd is that Yungblud creates and promotes a safe and inclusive environment and he’s not shy about it. The majority of attendees tonight see themselves in him, the circumstances and the feelings he sings about. There is representation in the room that no level of cynicism can tarnish. Not for this young, fanatic mass of believers.
Something that remains impervious to any negativity is his performance. For the best part of two hours the stage, or stages, well the whole arena really, is at the mercy of a human Duracell bunny. Every step filled with swagger and attitude, every jump executed to its peak, every bit of energy demanded of the audience returned tenfold by the man on stage demanding it from you.
Right from the get go with support act Neck Deep the already bustling arena is fully committed to being active participants in tonight’s performance rather than mere static observers. Vibrant with energy and despite having only a small slither of stage to work with as a result of Yungblud’s now bigger, better, arena size stage set up, the Welsh four piece conduct mosh pits and fill their occupants with righteous angst.
It’s impossible not to be reminded about all the things you loved about going to gigs with your friends when you were a teenager. The unwavering idolisation of whoever was on stage, the carefree release that can only come from wailing your limbs in every possible direction and feeling of belonging that comes with doing it alongside thousands of others.
It’s what we want our rockstars to do. Deniers aside, Yungblud is a rockstar. At just 25 years old he already has a recognisable silhouette that sends the crowd wild at the sight of it being projected in giant proportions as the show begins. With a Sid Vicious haircut, Pugsley Addams top and a nod to Twisted Sisters “what are you going to do with your life” intro to We’re Not Going To Take It, he is a patchwork of misfit influences.
The demand for teenage rebellion is constant and in 2023 he is one of the country’s biggest suppliers, regardless of intentions. Long live our rockstars and long live youth’s unshakable belief in them.
21st Century Liability
Die for the Hype
Sex Not Violence
I Cry 2
I Think I’m OKAY
hope for the underrated youth
The Boy in the Black Dress
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Check out our reviews here.