LIVE: You Me At Six @ Scala, London

By Yasmin Brown

Since the release of their latest album ‘VI’ back in early October, You Me At Six have barely allowed themselves a break. From embarking on two tours concurrently here in the UK in December, to an extensive European tour, the five members of this band have been relentlessly pushing themselves to the limit.

Among the ample festival announcements (is there a festival the YMAS boys aren’t playing this summer?!), was the announcement that they would be playing a one off charity show as part of the Brits week series before heading out to the states for their ‘Back Again’ tour.

Funded by O2 in support of War Child, Brits week sees popular bands playing intimate venues across London and, following a stint of packed out Brixton shows, having the opportunity to see You Me At Six play the 700 capacity Scala felt like a rare treat, and a great chance to support a great cause.

As always with You Me At Six, this show was one for the fans, with front man Josh Franceschi blowing kisses at those in the front few rows from the moment the band took to the stage. The crowd responded by launching themselves into the air from the first notes of ‘Fast Forward’, and barely stood still for a moment over the 90 minutes that followed. The 700 fans in attendance were not there to mess about, making the most of every second and, by the grins that were permanently plastered on their faces, they seemed having the time of their lives as they did so.

That said, something about the on-stage energy felt a little off, with Franceschi making intermittent yet notable comments about management and labels that had you wondering what might be going on with the band behind the scenes – particularly following an uncomfortable and awkward comment about the apparent low sales of ‘VI’.

These moments of discomfort were fleeting, however, and the majority of the crowd seemed undeterred by the slight stray from perfection that usually defines YMAS live shows. From the seamless mashup of ‘Reckless’ and Foo Fighters’ ‘Best of You’, to the cathartic bitterness of new track ‘Predictable’ (“This song’s about dickheads”) that saw Franceschi putting bassist Matt Barnes in a friendly headlock, the band were – sonically – as tight as ever.

2016’s ‘Give’ was treated to an extended intro and outro, highlighting the band’s often overlooked musical talent, and prior to launching into fan favourite ‘Take On the World’, Franceschi reminded us of why we had all come together; encouraging humility and gratitude, and pressing the importance of doing something for someone else “for once in our fucking lives”. These two performances in particular encompass everything that You Me At Six stand for – growing as musicians and being consistently good people – and were definite highlights of the evening.

By the second half of the set, the crowd was well and truly warmed up, and ‘Save It For the Bedroom’ saw the first real circle pit of the night. Franceschi took it as an opportunity to further highlight their growth as a band, as he gave the chorus a similar treatment to Paramore’s ‘Misery Business’; refusing to utter the word ‘whore’ as acknowledgement of the connotations it now holds.

There are gigs where the energy wanes as the show goes on, but the opposite was true at Scala on this Monday evening. After a long-winded monologue about encores, during which he apologised to a fan for the fact that this was her first ever live show, a pit that stretched the entire width of the venue formed during 2011’s ‘Bite My Tongue’. Naturally, mayhem ensued, and Franceschi gave himself a pat on the back prior to screaming Oli Sykes’ part of the track in his absence.

Following an enthusiastic chant of “You Me At Six!”, the band returned to the stage for the final four songs of the night. While ‘Stay With Me’ was noticeably absent, the energy that accompanied ‘Room to Breathe’ more than made up for it, and the decision was all but forgotten by the time we were all yelling “Underdog” into the abyss in the final few moments of the night.