LIVE: Less Than Jake / Yellowcard @ Koko, London

By Tamsyn Wilce

With both Yellowcard and Less Than Jake sharing equal set time, there really isn’t much competition between the two, although it’s fair to say the majority of the crowd are certainly here for Less Than Jake.

As the stage darkens, a single spotlight shines upon Yellowcard violinist Sean Mackin, as he delicately plays the hauntingly beautiful introduction from latest album ‘Lift A Sail’. It may not be a pummelling stage entrance but it is incredibly powerful all the same. Then, the pounding drums of ‘Transmission Home’ bellow out and their performance truly begins, full of guts and passion, as front man Ryan Key leads his troop on their quest to dominate the Koko stage.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Yellowcard set without hearing some old favourites from their back catalogue, and as the romantic ‘Only One’ bellows out the room erupts and the crowd belt back the familiar words in the chorus. Yellowcard are haunted by their earlier material, nostalgic for so many, they’ve struggled to break away from that era and Key makes a statement, expressing his plea for everyone to give their new music a chance and rightly so. ‘California’ is stripped back to just Key and his piano, whilst title track ‘Lift A Sail’ layers a spine tingling atmosphere over the crowd as they sing, “I am ready now” along with the commanding chorus.

Bringing they’re triumphant return to the UK to a close with ‘Way Away’ and ‘Ocean Avenue’ the crowd get feisty one last time as they remember the songs of their adolescence. Though the performance was fairly basic, (no confetti canons here) it was fantastic to see Yellowcard back on the UK shores once again. Hopefully next time we won’t have to wait so long.

Less Than Jake take the top headline slot for the show tonight and as soon as they bounce onto the stage all hell brakes loose. Bursting to life with ‘Look What Happened’, the stage explodes with confetti (so that’s where it went) and the crowd go absolute insane, it really is quite astonishing to watch 40+ year-old men getting their skank on. The fun and shenanigans continues as trombone player Buddy Schaub makes his way to the balcony to play a solo whilst the rest of the band continue to encourage dancing/skanking/moshing in all forms down on the floor.

With two decades worth of material to squeeze into a 90-minute set was going to be tough, but Less Than Jake power through, playing track after track, including favourites such as ‘The Science of Selling Yourself Short’, ‘The Ghost of Me and You’ and ‘Plastic Cup Politics’. The band also reveal they’ve been granted the soundtrack to the re-release of Pac Man Cereal, which hears cheers of gargantuan proportions. The band continue, firing toilet roll confetti out to the crowds and inviting female audience members up on stage to dance. Giant balloons bounce over heads and the atmosphere is like the most insane house party you’ve ever attended.

There’s no doubt about it, Less Than Jake still know how to deliver a set that is guaranteed fun from start to finish. Amongst the crude jokes and laughter, there isn’t a single person standing still.