Brighton-based rock quartet Yonaka are seemingly committed to not making their fans wait too long between tours, and tonight they are back to Nottingham in support of their debut album “Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow” which dropped in May.
Tonight’s gig was their second in the East Midland’s city this year, follow-up to their triumphant show at the smaller Bodega venue (220 capacity) back in March.
They are a busy band, having toured with Bring Me the Horizon earlier this year, and they recently opened for The Cult in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
Their sold out Bodega gig in Nottingham last Spring, coming just before their album release and with three EPs to their name: “Heavy” (2017), “Creature” (2018) and “Teach Me To Fight” (2018).
Opening up tonight on the third show of an 11-date tour was solo artist Rusalka, who seems to be a bit of mystery as to her background and where she is from.
We do know she shares her name with a Dvořák opera, and in Slavic folklore, the rusalka is a “female entity, often malicious toward mankind and frequently associated with water”.
But lots of Yonaka fans on social media asking who she is, and little info’ on her to be had on-line at all.
What I can tell you is, she was alone on stage with just a keyboard for company, and she delivered an emotional set of slow material which still had energy. Passion for her craft shining through.
Her first ever tour, she told us, and it was obvious just how much this tour and each show meant to her. Just a shame that her impressive vocals interrupted some people’s conversation!
Maybe go to the bar or outside if you are at a gig and are so desperate to have loud conversations when someone is doing their thing on stage. So disrespectful to the artist and it also spoils other people’s enjoyment of the gig. Just a thought…
Moving on. The second support act tonight Zuzu, is a Liverpudlian who made quite an entrance on stage with her sparkling silver outfit, which quickly attracted non-stop compliments from a girl in the front row.
Zuzu and her three-piece band’s sound could be described as pop rock. Not the headbanging and sweaty kind, but a more playful and fun kind. An enjoyable set that held the attention of the crowd a lot more than the opening act.
As Yonaka’s intro music kicked in, the stage got darker, with intense red lights creating suspense until the band made their entrance.
With the album artwork as backdrop, first to make his appearance was bassist Alex Crosby, followed by drummer Rob Mason and guitarist George Edwards. When lead singer Theresa Jarvis made her entrance, it was all systems go.
Right from the start, the energy in the packed room (maybe 30 bodies off of sold out) sky-rocketed, as the band blasted out three very powerful songs to let us know who was in town: “Punch Bag”, “Awake” and “Lose Our Heads”.
Anyone that has ever listened to Yonaka would know how strong and energetic each song from their album is, so it’s not a surprise that energy levels were consistently high for the set.
They delivered songs from their EP releases, such as “Own Worst Enemy” (where Theresa jumped down into the pit and joined the fans at the barrier – as she did for the song “Fired Up”), “Death By Love”, “Teach Me To Fight” and singles including “F.W.T.B.”, but main focus of the set list was material from the current album.
Five years since they formed, their debut album reached # 38 on the UK chart and # 10 on the UK’s vinyl chart.
Theresa encouraged the crowd to “feel” and “be strong” and to “make the most of your life” and avoid people telling them they can’t do what they want to do. She emphasised how she wanted everybody to let go of bad thoughts and other things on their mind, and to fully enjoy the show without caring for anything else.
Yeah, sod the gas bill and the dodgy oil leak on the car, it’s party time – on a school night too!!!
At one point to drop the pace a tad, the band left the stage to Theresa and George, who teamed up for a lovely stripped-down version of “Guilty”, just voice and electric guitar, before the rest of the band returned to wrap things up.
During the final song of the set, guitarist George left the stage and disappeared into the middle of the crowd, who formed a circle around him while he continued playing his guitar. Nice touch.
Unusually no encore after a 14-song set, despite the 450-capacity crowd yelling for more in unison. But this band smashed it tonight – a huge progression in their career from their first Nottingham appearance – a free gig at Rough Trade, when two people knew their songs!
Tonight, literally everyone in the place knew their songs, even the bar staff! In a year or two, mark my words; Yonaka will become a headlining arena act. Quote me on that!
- They have rescheduled their Dublin date on this tour to February next year, when they also play Belfast and Limerick. But of the dates still to come on this tour, Yonaka will call in at Oxford (12th), Southsea Portsmouth (13th), Birmingham (sold out – 15th), Newcastle (17th),Glasgow (18th), Sheffield (20th), Manchester (21st) and London, at the Electric in Brixton on 27th November.
Words and photos: Andrea Bottino
“Lose Our Heads”
“Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow”
“Own Worst Enemy”
“Death By Love”
“Teach Me To Fight”