Live Review: Yuck / Polterghost, The Macbeth, London (17/09/13)


On the first of a three night residency at East London’s The Macbeth, a revamped Yuck remind everyone just how good they are.

After former lead singer Daniel Blumberg’s departure earlier this year, it was up to guitarist Max Bloom to take over vocal duties, with new guitarist Ed Hayes making up the new-look Yuck foursome. In the relatively intimate surroundings of The Macbeth, Yuck treat us to a small sprinkling of new songs but still maintain a strong emphasis on material from their highly-acclaimed, eponymous debut album.

Before Yuck take to the stage, Impact favourites, Polterghost, play the perfect support slot. At times, their very American alternative rock almost shadows that of Yuck, but at other times, their classic-rock, Sabbath-inspired riffs hint at their heavier side. ‘Holy Smoke’ is an ingenious way to start a set, with its sugary Guided By Voices vocals and irresistible chorus. Recent single, ‘Beast’, is 90s grunge as its very best, while ‘Ordinary’ is a stunning take on college-rock. Polterghost just keep improving.

Yuck then arrive on stage, beginning with new song, ‘Middle Sea’. Whereas their other new release, ‘Rebirth’, drew easy comparisons to a variety of shoegaze acts, ‘Middle Sea’ takes Yuck’s previous material but expands it sonically, incorporating a heavier, more Sonic Youth-inspired sound. The other two new songs in the set follow in a similar vein, throwing those lazy My Bloody Valentine comparisons back in people’s faces.

As for the older, more familiar songs, it is ‘Georgia’ and ‘Get Away’ that particularly stand out. The former’s sweet Sparklehorse chorus and the latter’s Dinosaur Jr riff make for easy connections to guitar acts of the past, but the new line-up provides a new lease of life for these ageing songs. It is just ‘The Wall’ that slightly disappoints, with bassist Mariko Doi inheriting vocal obligations and a subsequently different, slightly weaker, sound.

The highlight of the whole evening, and possibly of this summer’s gig schedule, however, is a cover of New Order‘s ‘Age Of Consent’. The original hinted at New Order’s electric-based material to come, but Yuck make it into a proper grunge-pop tune, removing the synth and adding a sludgy guitar. It is a truly magical moment, as past and present musical greats combine to make something special.

What tonight proves is that Yuck will not miss Daniel Blumberg half as much as people have anticipated. Their new material sounds as fresh as ever and that forthcoming second album ought to be a cracker. One of the best gigs this year.

Alex Neely

…Alex is listening to My Bloody Valentine – Isn’t Anything


Yuck played:

Middle Sea
Holing Out
Get Away
The Wall
Age Of Consent (New Order cover)


Leave a Reply