WU LYF - SWG3, Glasgow, Sat 17 Mar
Mancunian 'kings of heavy pop' triumph over piffling technical difficulties
Since they first cropped up in the public consciousness, WU LYF have been intriguing due to the fact that no one really knew very much about them. The name (World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation); the image and the mystique surrounding them; was it genuine or the brainchild of a clever a creative marketing monkey?
Some purist music fans found themselves with an existential quandary: should you care if what you believe might be the next great indie/pop band is organic or cultivated in a high tech music marketing lab? Journalists fell over each other in an attempt to reveal more about the Manchester four-piece that was being tipped on every new year hip blog list at the start of 2011, despite having only played a handful of gigs and with no debut record to their name.
Fast forward a year. Critics and music lovers have lapped up the much-anticipated full length Go Tell Fire To The Mountain and the Glasgow date of their spring tour is one hot ticket. Arty venue SWG3 (dead cool but also dead out the way) is full of kids wearing t-shirts with the band’s signature faux-cross logo, a symbol which is also represented in a 3D light box version onstage and emblazons the back of bequiffed vocalist Ellery Roberts’ faded denim jacket (think James Dean meets Morrisey in terms of get up/swagger). Branded aff the scale, but is there substance to back up their über hip, Vice magazine style?
Opening on the chordal organ synth sound with which they have become synonymous, the band struggle with sound issues and extreme feedback for the first half of the set. Obviously put off by the technical difficulties, the band soldier on through a set full of tracks from their debut, including singles ‘Dirt’ and ‘We Bros’, as well as lush album opener ‘L Y F’. Once the live troubles are solved, the band hit their stride, Roberts’ gravelly bark, nonsense lyrics and droll intensity lapped up by the crowd (aided also by some crowd surfing and general audience baiting). Joe Manning’s idiosyncratic, grooving drums complement the sweeping guitar licks (high fives for your sweet tone, Evans Kati) and, by the end of the set, the quartet have reached alt-pop anthem territory, putting to bed any debates about their qualifications or quality as the incoming kings of ‘heavy pop’.