LIVE: Don Broco / Yonaka / Press To Meco @ O2 Academy, Leeds

By Liam Knowles

Don Broco might seem like relative newcomers to some but they’ve been doing the rounds on the UK live music circuit for over a decade now, and the snaking line of hundreds of fans stretching way out of view of the venue is testament to the hard work and dedication they’ve put in during that time. Unfortunately that impressive queue means a lot of people miss most or all of Press To Meco’s set, which is a crime because they’re one of the most interesting bands in the UK right now. It speaks volumes for Press To Meco’s versatility that they can go from supporting Sikth on tour to supporting Don Broco and have neither feel like a weird fit, with tracks like ‘Manipulate’ and ‘Affinity’ proving that you don’t have to sacrifice musical technicality to make your songs catchy and memorable.

After that performance, Yonaka frankly fall a bit flat. Their swaggering brand of pop-rock isn’t bad, but their ‘attitude’ feels a little tacky and forced. There’s no doubt that vocalist Theresa Jarvis is talented, and her Karen O-meets-Gwen Stefani vocal delivery makes her stand out as a performer, but her band, who admittedly sound fantastic in terms of tone, aren’t really giving her much to work with and the songs just never kick in like you want them to. ‘Bubblegum’ is a particularly good example of how too many of their songs are all buildup and no payoff.

If there’s one band that does ‘swaggering pop-rock’ better than anyone, it’s Don Broco. The venue is packed to the rafters as they take to the stage and burst straight into ‘Pretty’. The crowd reaction following the first ‘8 DAYS A WEEK’ refrain is a sight to behold, and proof that Don Broco have stepped out of being that band that supports bigger bands at arena shows and become a headliner in their own right. The set is mostly made up of tracks from 2018’s ‘Technology’, like the overwhelmingly infectious ‘Everybody’ (featuring the loudest riff-singalong in recent memory), ‘Stay Ignorant’ and ‘Porkies’, which are all rapturously received. The Bedford lads are on fine form, delivering every moment of the set with staggering tightness. They sound fantastic tonally, particularly on the heavier moments like ‘Money, Power, Fame’ and fan-favourite ‘Thug Workout’, which sees the #lads in the crowd doing pushups in the pit, and the complimentary dual-vocals of charismatic lead vocalist Rob Damiani and drummer Matt Donnelly ride perfectly atop the rock solid riffs.

The only real criticism of Don Broco’s performance tonight is the lack of songs from their debut album ‘Priorities’, with only the title track making an appearance. With ‘Technology’ taking a step away from the poppier approach of ‘Automatic’ back towards the band’s heavier roots, some of those early songs would have fit perfectly among the set. That said, you can see why the band may have made the decision to shy away from playing too much that their newer and younger fans may not have heard.

Overall it’s clear to see why Don Broco are finally enjoying the mainstream success they’ve been working towards for the last ten plus years. They’ve got the right image, and they’ve got that cheeky boyish charm, but they’ve also got the talent and the songwriting ability to back all that up. If they keep up this momentum there’s no telling what heights they might reach.