LIVE: You Me At Six / Marmozets / The Xcerts ‘VI Tour’ @ O2 Academy Brixton

By Yasmin Brown

Regardless of the fluctuating position of You Me At Six in the British charts over the years, their core fanbase has always remained loyal and consistent, having connected strongly to the personable nature of the band and appreciating their consistent fight to listen to their fans.

The solid foundations of this relationship were made clear at the first of three nights at Brixton Academy – this one in support of You Me At Six’s recently released album, ‘VI’, which brought in an almost sold out Friday night crowd. With the room filling up early to experience support acts The Marmozets and The Xcerts, the anxious anticipation was almost tangible at the idea of witnessing their new favourite YMAS songs live for the first time.

The night kicked off with what might be the band’s best tour opener yet, ‘Fast Forward’. It’s heavier tempo sent the crowd into a frenzy, the pace of which was easily maintained during old favourites ‘Lived a Lie’, ‘Reckless’ and ‘Loverboy’.

Upon its release, ‘Back Again’ raised some eyebrows, but after having time to warm up to its not-so-subtle pop undertones, YMAS fans were ready to get their dancing shoes on before taking it back to 2014 and 2016 with ‘Night People’, ‘Fresh Start Fever’ and ‘Cold Night’; the main riff that fuels the latter still hitting that sweet spot four years later and providing an excellent opportunity for a ‘side vs side’ singalong.

Of course it wouldn’t be a You Me At Six show without those massive anthems, and ‘Stay With Me’ was the first of the night, seeing arms reach desperately into the air as the deafening crowd gave lead singer Josh Franceschi a much needed break during the chorus. It was cleverly paired with ‘Give’, another powerful ballad rock song that allowed fans to yell into the abyss during its closing lyrics.

This emotional atmosphere was broken up only briefly with ‘VI’s’ leading single ‘3AM’ (another pop treasure), before jumping straight back into it for ‘Take On the World’ – a song which on this particular night was dedicated to us, the fans. Josh explained how close they came to cancelling the next few shows due to illness, but that he “looked around the dressing room at my best friends in the fucking world and I thought about their family and friends and the five thousand people that have been looking forward to this for a long time and I thought that’s worth getting pricked in the bum for sure.” 

With phone lights now lighting the iconic venue, it was easy the see the tears silently streaking the faces of many at this sentiment, but these were quickly wiped away as Josh explained that the next song would only be played should there be “an obscene amount of crowd surfers” and the opening notes to 2008’s ‘Save It For the Bedroom’ hit our ears. The crowd – as they say – went wild.

‘Bite My Tongue’ never gets old, and the screams that came both during and following the hectic performance were heartwarming, as the realisation hit that You Me At Six have created this everlasting fan base that will love them whether they’re writing alongside Oli Sykes or Max Martin. It was the perfect moment to pause for an encore, giving us a second to collect ourselves before diving right back in for the final four songs.

Matt, Max, and Josh had already been leaping across the stage, but it was during the encore where they really let loose, giggling like school boys as they ran at each other in jest. Despite Josh’s sickness, all five band members were clearly embracing every little bit of this unforgettable evening as they made their way through ‘Room to Breathe’ and ‘No One Does It Better’ to delighted screams coming from the five thousand in attendance.

After happily dancing our way through a performance of new single ‘Straight to my Head’, it was time for the finale which came – as ever – in the form of ‘Underdog’. It might be eight years old, but this will forever be You Me At Six’s legacy, and nothing will ever beat screaming that single word with any number of other fans who love this band just as much as you do.

It’s impossible to describe a You Me At Six show without using the words ‘ecstatic’ or ‘joyful’. It might sound glib or lacklustre, but as you recall launching yourself into the air over and over, despite only being held up by a fleeting adrenaline rush, these are the most powerful emotions that come to mind.

You might be drowning in your own sweat with your hair stuck grimly to your forehead like you’ve used way too much Brylcreem, but you’ll also be wearing a grin so big your jaw aches. And that’s really the only accurate way to describe what this evening felt like. And the best news is that the band hinted that they may or may not be playing Reading and Leeds this summer (they totally are), so we get to do it all again very soon.