LIVE: You Me At Six / The Hunna / Holding Absence / Kid Kapichi / Yours Truly @ Hatfield Park, Hatfield

By Yasmin Brown

For anyone who has ever loved You Me At Six, today feels like a long time coming. Infamously their most-revered album, ‘Sinners Never Sleep’ turned 10 last year and it only felt right that the band celebrate this career-turning album in style: playing it back to back in a field on one of the most beautiful days of 2022 so far for #10YearsofSin. 

Rather than make today all about them, however, the YMAS boys have curated themselves a mini festival, bringing with them four of their favourite (almost exclusively British) bands to warm up this already very toasty crowd ahead of their headline set.

Opening today are last-minute additions, Yours Truly, an Australian four-piece whose recent collaboration with Mr Josh Franceschi himself seemingly earned them a spot on the lineup after Yonaka pulled out due to an illness in the band. Led by the ever-charismatic Mikaila Delgado, these guys bring an epic combination of electronic and rock music, filling the stage with energy and psyching up the already dense crowd. Despite the sound setup letting them down slightly  – Delgado’s usually fierce vocals are somewhat drowned out here – they still provide the perfect start to what will soon reveal itself to be the perfect day.

Following close behind are post-punk Kid Kapichi. Hailing from Hastings, this band is here to get you thinking, combining their refined sound with striking political lyrics to successfully rile the crowd up in an entirely different way to anything else we’re set to experience today. Fresh off a UK tour, this band’s following is growing by the minute and in a country populated by increasingly disenchanted citizens, it’s easy to see why. Today’s performance is tight and sees an even greater crowd gather than Yours Truly as more fans start to trickle through the gates and make their way to the stage. If this is just the beginning, we daren’t imagine what’s coming next but we’re sure as hell looking forward to it. 

Looking at the slightly less distant future, however, next up tonight is the mighty Holding Absence – easily one of the greatest live bands in the UK right now and the perfect addition to this already stellar lineup. Fronted by powerhouse Lucas Woodland, it’s impossible not to find yourself drawn into this set as goosebumps cover your skin and tears inexplicably run down your face with every song that passes. The band’s already stunning music was made for a live environment and here you can experience all of your favourite songs in a whole new setting, as though hearing them for the very first time. Despite their supporting status tonight, there are fans screaming every lyric back without a second thought, leaning into this ferocious performance. This performance is only further elevated by the unexpectedly strong backing vocals of guitarist Scott Carey, furious drumming of the unbelievable Ashley Green, and driving bass of newcomer Benjamin Elliott – together they can only be described as flawless. With a seemingly unending and mind blowing talent for songwriting, it would be no surprise to see Holding Absence headlining a show like this themselves in just a few short years – and we’ll be the first ones in line for tickets. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be a festival in 2022 without The Hunna – a band who have been dominating our summers for years now, this Watford four-piece’s vibrant presence means they’re simply made for the field. Easily capturing the crowd from the moment they take to stage, the chaotic energy The Hunna exude is contagious and whether you’ve heard of them or not, you’ll find a grin spread across your face and feel an undeniable desire to dance. As much as this is a special night for us, it can only mean more to this band who admit to, like us, having grown up on You Me At Six, bringing them full circle this evening. With that in mind, they seem to throw themselves into their set more than ever, mixing it up with old favourites such as ‘Dare’, ‘She’s Casual’ (complete with the usual crowd singalong) and ‘Bonfire’, as well as treating us to some new songs from their upcoming fourth album. Given The Hunna already have quite the following, they’re the ideal choice for main support today and by the time they leave the stage, this crowd is more ready than ever to relive their teen years.

Bring it on, You Me At Six.

And bring it on they do, leaping onto stage just as the sunlight starts to fade slightly, preventing the chill from having so much as a chance to touch us. Still reeling off the anti-discrimination message that filled the screens ahead of the music starting, this crowd is feeling nothing but excitement and acceptance, all of which only increases when those first notes of ‘Loverboy’ hit our ears. 

The band makes it through this first part of the set with apparent ease, a well-oiled machine, they take cues from each other perfectly and perform almost without a hitch – a surefire sign of a band made up of best friends who clearly feel as much love for this decade old album and the songs that make it as we do. There’s so much emotion within its parts, from loss to longing to anger to love to frustration… and all of it is captured as You Me At Six revisit every dark and dirty corner of their early twenties. Just as the members of the band are taken back in time, so, too are the fans, recalling who they loved and who they lost back in 2011 when this record was first released. It’s a nostalgia trip, sure, but also an ode to how far we’ve all come as we’ve aged, and as every word falls effortlessly and without thought out of our mouths, everyone here tonight has fallen in love with ‘Sinners Never Sleep’ all over again. 

The album’s two collaborations, ‘Bite My Tongue’, featuring Bring Me The Horizon’s Oli Sykes, and ‘Time is Money’ – a particularly heavy venture with Parkway Drive’s Winston McCall – go down particularly well, the only potential complaint being that the respective collaborators appear on screen while their vocals play over the speakers. While having them here in the flesh may have been a little (okay, very) ambitious – McCall in particular comes from Australia – you still find yourself somewhat aware of how even more incredible this might have been had that been the case.

It’s a silly complaint, really, and one that’s easily overshadowed by the rest of the set. From being reminded of hidden gems such as ‘Little Bit of Truth’ and ‘The Dilemma’, to the slight fumbling over lyrics in ‘Crash’ (referred to later as a “monstrosity” by frontman Josh Franceschi), to the raw emotion felt venue-wide during ‘When We Were Younger’ (wherein Franceschi’s vocals are undoubtedly strongest), there are so many golden moments to reflect on both throughout the set and once it’s over, too. Just as the band does, the crowd throws themselves emphatically and desperately into every second of this set, knowing full well it may be our very last chance to catch some of these songs performed live. The atmosphere is tangible, built up of true joy that seeps out of everyone in attendance. This album is beyond special and it’s a genuine delight to be here experiencing it with like minded individuals who have grown up with you – even if they didn’t know it until now. It’s a truly magical and rare experience and looking around, no one either in the field or on stage are taking a second of it for granted. 

All of this magic comes before a second, shorter part of the show, that sees a four song encore made up of new material and that finds the crowd dancing again after the melancholy closing track of ‘Sinners’, ‘When We Were Younger’, plays out. These four songs are kicked off with the extremely dancey ‘SUCKAPUNCH’, the title track from the band’s latest album that allows Franceschi to encourage the crowd to “get down” and subsequently get the fuck back up. It’s the perfect re-energiser and means that what comes next is even more well-received. Enter ‘The Swarm’ – a song that was released alongside the opening of the ride of the same name at Thorpe Park back when ‘Sinners’ was released and that has been paid dust ever since. Tonight, however, it’s justice for ‘The Swarm’ as it makes it way happily back onto the setlist to the delighted reception of this crowd.

With just two songs to go, it can only be a more recent fan fave, ‘Beautiful Way’ and the old trusty, ‘Underdog’, the combination of which leaves us reaching brand new heights this evening, and wishing it might never end.

The show ends with a promise of new music, some of which plays as the crowd files out of the park, adrenalin still coursing through our veins. Here’s hoping we’re all here again in another 10 years, celebrating another of our favourite albums.