LIVE: You Me At Six / Waterparks / The Maine @ Alexandra Palace, London

By Yasmin Brown

There are few occasions more special than experiencing a band playing live the weekend of an album release and with ‘Truth Decay’ fresh in our ears, You Me At Six fans have turned up en masse ready to scream the words into the rafters of the vast Alexandra Palace. 

It’s 7:15pm and ‘Sweet Caroline’ is blasting over the speakers as Arizona’s The Maine take to the stage, acting as tonight’s second warm up act. The iconic song, while notoriously known on our shores for its football association, leads perfectly into the band’s first performance of the night – a nod to the ‘Sticky’ lyric “‘Cause you’re on repeat like “so good” in ‘Sweet Caroline’. This light touch humour defines the band’s set which is filled with silly yet charming anecdotes from front man John O’Callaghan, seamlessly yet seemingly whimsically tying together each of the seven songs on their setlist. With the added bonus of a special appearance from Charlotte Sands for the addictive ‘Loved You a Little’, which sees mayhem ensue in the front quarter of the venue in particular, The Maine garner far more enthusiasm and excitement than you’d expect from an opening act. Made for stages like this, we hope it won’t be too long before they see themselves rising in the ranks to headliners themselves. 

What follows is an 11 song setlist by Texas natives, Waterparks. Acting as main support and well-known for being something of a ‘marmite’ band, Waterparks definitely split this crowd in two. Those in the front half of the venue scream emphatically to every word, jumping when commanded and generally eating out of the palm of Awsten Knight’s hands in a very, “Yes sir, no sir, three bags full, sir” kind of way. The vibrantly red-headed frontman’s charisma is undeniable, as is the catchy nature of the band’s set, and regardless of where you sit on the marmite scale you can’t help but smile at the scene before you, even catching yourself unashamedly yet unwillingly tapping a toe or two. Between Waterparks and The Maine, it’s safe to say tonight’s crowd are sufficiently toasty and ready for the main event.

Tonight marks You Me At Six’s second headline show at Alexandra Palace – the first being nearly six years ago in 2017 following the release of ‘Night People’ – and the production in itself shows just how far the band has come, feeling much more professional than their previous appearance, including various stage levels and one hell of a lighting set up. 

It’s this light production that intros the band tonight, bringing them on stage to a flurry of flashing colours in a way that boldly says, “We have arrived”. Despite this however, the band miss the mark somewhat in starting with new song ‘Deep Cuts’, which fails to see the immediate engagement you’d expect of a YMAS show. This instead comes with song two on the setlist, 2014’s ‘Fresh Start Fever’ which sees the crowd losing their minds, awestruck as front man Josh Franceschi hits that note. 

While the additional levels (deservedly showcasing drummer Dan Flint in all his glory), impressive light show and unexpected runway all add to the show, the production would have fared well from the addition of song transitions. As it is, however, there are a number of moments throughout the show wherein the lights are down and there’s no sound to be heard bar the occasional “Whoop!” from a crowd member. 

This is the only criticism to be found here, however, and it’s easy to forgive such small details given the professionalism with which the rest of the show and its massive 21 song setlist are executed. Whether it’s the classic call and response during ‘Cold Night’, the labelling of each part of the set (our favourite being the final part: “Pure Filth: Nothing But Bangers”) or the humanising speeches setting up fan fave ‘Take on the World’ and new heart tugger ‘Mixed Emotions’, there’s something for everyone. Not forgetting, of course, the night’s real highlights that come in the form of Franceschi and guitarist Chris Miller’s acoustic rendition of ‘No One Does It Better’ and – perhaps most excitingly – the short but sweet surprise appearance of Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds during ‘No Future? Yeah Right’, the response to which all but lifted the roof right off the main hall.

It’s been 18 years of You Me At Six and it’s safe to say they’re stronger than ever. Despite being told time and time again that they’ll never fill the likes of Wembley Arena or Ally Pally, these five boys continue to prove doubters wrong. Having grown from boys to men together, without ever a shift in lineup, the YMAS crew know each other inside and out, a chemistry that sparks fires on stage and ignites a flame in all of us too. Franceschi admits towards the end that we have “no idea how many times the You Me At Six family has saved [his] fucking life”, and it’s fair to assume the same can be said of many in this room too.