Review: Yellowcard at The Peel

Florida punk-rockers Yellowcard took the Kingston Peel by storm on March 3, playing to a sold out crowd of fans and celebrities, after talking exclusively to The River. 

Caroline Bursell

“I was told that this is a cool venue that tears sh** up,” said Yellowcard frontman Ryan Key to an enthusiastic crowd at the Kingston Peel on Sunday night, a crowd that included popular Surrey rockers Josh Franceschi, Max Helyer, Matt Barnes and Dan Flint of You Me At Six

No phones allowed

Adamant to make the night about their music, Key tells the audience to keep their phones tucked away, saying that “few things piss me off more”. Luckily for him and his unique five-piece alternative rock band, the music was more than enough to keep listeners firmly focused on the stage.

First to demand attention was opening track Awakening from the band’s latest album Southern Air, a happy ode to rebirth and drunken celebration with lyrics such as “bottom’s up tonight”. Lively and powerful Always Summer followed, and despite the chill outdoors, the temperature rose steadily and dancing soon turned into crowd-surfing.

Violinist Sean Mackin‘s effortless control of his instrument and ability to be heard over electric guitar distortion and fierce percussion brought beauty to the performance, especially in Way Away and Five Becomes Four.

The vibe on stage is a loving family dynamic, seen when Key sings “I love you still, I always will” and points to Mackin beside him, while in a break between songs the crowd’s antics are jokingly hushed by Mackin telling fans to have fun but not to “knock my lead singer’s teeth out”.

“Best show of the tour”

Sweat dripping and energy abounding, the show continues with Light Up The Sky and Here I Am Alive, the latter’s chorus featuring a booming sing-back that will leave more than a few throats sore. This was the band’s objective, says Key when he declares that waking up with no voice is “the point”. The frontman seems genuinely triumphant, stating that the sold-out show was by far “the best show of the tour”.

2006 favourite Rough Landing, Holly shows off Key’s and lead guitarist Ryan Mendez‘s masterful riffs, and the echoing ‘whoah-ohs’ of With You Around prompts Key to add newer Surface Of The Sun to the original setlist at the pleasure of the never tiring crowd.

Believe and Ocean Avenue are closing highlights, and the room is left steaming with perspiration and spirited satisfaction. Before exiting, Key expresses the band’s hope of playing the Reading & Leeds Festival this year, and if The Peel’s turnout is any indication, Yellowcard will continue to sell out any future UK shows with their positively electric live performance.  

Read The River’s exclusive interview with Yellowcard’s Sean Mackin in the next issue out March 8.

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