Yungblud with Nova Twins, Royal Albert Hall review: a riotously good show

·2-min read
Yungblud  (PA)
Yungblud (PA)

Making his Royal Albert Hall debut, flamboyant emo-rocker Yungblud headlined the third in this week’s ongoing series of Teenage Cancer Trust benefit concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. Dressed in an unusually sober suit jacket and matching shorts, the 24-year-old Doncaster native drew a rowdy young crowd whose sing-along vocals almost drowned out his own. The androgynous singer is known as plain old Dominic Harrison to his family, many of whom were in attendance at this show. “I put a suit on because my mum’s here,” he grinned.

Opening for Yungblud were Nova Twins, aka London duo Amy Love and Georgia South, who are finally earning rightful respect as one of Britain’s most exciting new bands after being grounded by the pandemic for much of the last two years. Joined by a live drummer, their set was brief but thrillingly gnarly, with brutalist funk-rock tracks such as Cleopatra and Undertakerchurning up a thunderously kinetic maelstrom of noise-pop, grime, dub, thrash metal, spiky political rage and feminist sass. Even in this compact format, these young women sounded like major stars in waiting.

Yungblud began his set in typically feverish high gear, which rarely relaxed all evening. Opening with the innuendo-driven lust anthem Strawberry Lipstick, he radiated the anarchic aura of a pansexual Batman villain as he leered manically, ground his crotch lasciviously, dropped a volley of four-letter f-bombs, kissed his male guitarist and ran headlong into the audience. And that was just the first song. He may swear and sneer and bellow himself hoarse, but the singer came across as much more Robbie Williams than Liam Gallagher during this performance, a cheeky scamp shamelessly hamming up his cartoon self-image as an unassuming northerner amazed to find himself playing such a prestigious London venue.

Nova Twins (Corinne Cumming)
Nova Twins (Corinne Cumming)

Steeped in vintage punk and grunge, glam rock and hip-hop influences, Harrison’s music was lively and melodic, if somewhat low on subtlety or originality. That said, his explosively dynamic performance style proved highly effective as he pinballed, hurtled and cart-wheeled through every sweat-soaked number, buoyed along by the roaring crowd. Crucially, he clearly shares a strong bond of empathy with his adolescent fans, tapping into their universal anxieties by repeatedly addressing his own self-esteem and mental health issues in tracks such as the angst-ridden Parents, the sullen Loner and the swashbuckling Nirvana-lite rocker Fleabag.

Yungblud’s remorselessly needy tone grated at times, like an over-stimulated puppy that insists on humping your leg all evening. But his stadium-sized ambition and eagerness to please ultimately proved hard to resist. This must surely be the first ever Royal Albert Hall concert to climax with the headline star conducting a huge moshpit of whirling bodies while leading the crowd in a massed chant of “scream for Ukraine! Fuck Putin!”. A riotously good show for a great cause.

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