If someone told me a year or so ago that I would be going to a concert for the rock musician Yungblud, I probably would have laughed and scoffed at them. Me, an electronic, pop, R&B fan, going to a rock concert? Very unlikely. However, ever since I read a small extract about him in the Guilty Pleasures section of the Metro newspaper last year on my way to university, and decided to investigate the Northerner some months after that, I found myself taking a liking to his looks, music and perspective on the world. And now here I am at Resorts World Arena, reviewing this show that forms part of his world tour. Who knew?
Before he came to play, however, there was another act, the Welsh rock band Neck Deep, serving as the opening/supporting act. After they played and promoted their message of inclusivity and acceptance, it was about half an hour of waiting for the main act, for the curtain to lower and show us the musician and his band. And just when I thought I (and everyone else) would be waiting for a little bit longer, the lights came down. A clip of rain falling, a shower. A figure, silhouetted, backed with feathered wings. And then, the curtain falls.
Oh my gosh, I thought. This is real. This is actually happening. I’m seeing Yungblud.
Kicking off the show with the track 21st Century Liability, this cute musician, dressed in black and white and pink, took us on a lively, uplifting musical ride through songs from both his self-titled album that was released last year, and material from the past five years. This included Parents, Tissues, The Boy in the Black Dress and Hope for the Underrated Youth. They held themes of uplifting young people, identity, challenging gender stereotypes and mental health – an ode to the world and society’s problems, and how we can make the world a better place. But it isn’t just about the music – there were segments where Yungblud interacted with the audience below (I was sitting in the side, up high), gave speeches, chatted to a guy called Mike and blew bubbles with another spectator, which I found particularly funny. Later on, there was a story about a demon in a wood, and a girl, a boy and another girl, and a mirror – which we listened to as he sat on a toilet seat in the centre platform (yes, he really did this), and read a book, which presumably contained the same story. As you do.
Given that this was my first ever concert, I was pretty impressed that the show lived up to my high expectations. Combined with the liveliness of Yungblud’s performances and his upfront, no-holds barred attitude to inclusivity and creating a safe space for everyone, it was every bit worth my time and money. At times, though, among the lights, there were moments where I noticed certain things on stage and thought, “What is that? Is that what I think it is?” and then I remember, it’s all part of his aesthetic and style. On the other hand, I found myself singing along to I Think I’m Okay (albeit terribly, when I watch back the video footage) and reduced to a giggling fangirl when he took his shirt off (for those of you wondering, everyone else screamed).
Another highlight of the event was when he gave his speech about his grievances with the government and their handling of people’s rights, most notably when he encouraged everyone to cuss PM Rishi Sunak, but not before telling him, to one camera to “listen to the kids, or we’ll f***ing eat ya!”. Probably because Sunak would rather want young people to study maths until they’re 18 than resolve the issue of the striking train workers, postal workers and nurses, but that’s a discussion for another time. It just goes to show that Yungblud is not just a pretty boy from the north, or a foul-mouthed pretty boy who bashes the government. It is a movement, a community, that stands for individuality, equality, friendship, freedom and love.