Gig Review: Yves Klein Blue @ Corner Hotel, 19th March

“You guys are fucking amazing” – Michael Tomlinson

Last night Yves Klein Blue played a flawless set to a sold out crowd at one of my favourite venues in Melbourne, The Corner Hotel. It was my sixth time seeing the boys live, making them my most seen live act, and it was also easily the best of the six, which is truly saying something. The last song turned it into the best and most memorable gig I have ever been to, but more on that later.

For even before Yves Klein Blue took to the stage, there was a lot to love about this gig.

All photos here were taken by me (at great risk of personal injury in the mosh) so please do not reproduce them without first asking permission.

I arrived at the venue with my mate, Nick (as usual) just after doors. We managed to secure a spot a few rows from the front of the stage and right in the center, having agreed earlier that we didn’t want to be in the very front row because the atmosphere wouldn’t be the same. I was glad that the Corner had opted to use just the main stage for all three acts of the night, because it meant that we could secure a good spot for Yves Klein Blue whilst not missing out on the great support acts.

The gig was way off schedule right from the start, however it didn’t really matter and soon enough Brisbane band Last Dinosaurs had taken the stage.

I had seen the band once before, opening for Cloud Control and Leader Cheetah at the East Brunswick Club. There they had been impressive, but there wasn’t enough of a crowd to create a real atmosphere. Thankfully the crowd at The Corner gave the band the respect of standing up and gathering around the stage, and the band did their spot on the bill justice with an incredibly enjoyable set.

Last Dinosaurs only have one EP out (the Melbourne launch is tonight and I wish I was there), but they made up for their lack of a backcatalogue with energy and uniqueness- the boys all appeared wearing fake moustaches and lead singer Sean Caskey was wearing a pirate hat as well, in a way reminiscent of The John Steel Singers wearing horse masks at Falls.

I don’t know many of their songs, but I know that it was a very very fun set. Last Dinosaurs play catchy music and they really do have a bit of a Phoenix thing going on, which can only be a good thing. I remembered liking a song called Alps when I saw them at The East Brunswick Club and it was very enjoyable at The Corner as well.

Honolulu was of course the highlight of their set, and got the whole crowd moving even though it was only early in the night. It is just such a perfectly catchy song, with that infections guitar riff and change in pace towards the end. Really though every song was catchy and fun, and half an hour almost seemed like it was not enough.

Sean’s interaction with the crowd was enjoyable and subtly funny- he responded to a plea for his pirate hat from a crowd member with “You don’t need my hat, you want my hat. I need it.” He noted that it was a very large crowd, but to me it just seemed like Last Dinosaurs were playing in front of the crowd that they deserved. Not only was it a sizeable crowd but it was also an excitable one complete with a smattering of true fans that knew all the words (including Michael Tomlinson from Yves Klein Blue who was visible to the side of the stage).

I love these guys and will definitely be checking them out next time they come to Melbourne. They were the perfect start to the gig.

Up next, after quite a short break, was Cloud Control. I had seen their album preview earlier this week at The Toff, and indeed seen them live quite a few times before that, but you can never have too much Cloud Control goodness so I was really looking forward to their set.

By this time the push towards the front had begun, but it was still very bearable, and it was great to see so many people at the Corner for the opening act, because the guys from Sydney certainly deserved it. “Wow there are so many people here,” said lead singer Al Wright.

Cloud Control played an absolutely brilliant set full of both new tracks from their upcoming debut album ‘Bliss Release’ and old fan favourites that had been missing from their setlist at The Toff. Indeed the only disappointment from their set was that Al was wearing his shoes the entire time, which was completely different to all the other times I have seen them.

I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that every single song that Cloud Control played was catchy, and that I could imagine having the entire set on high rotation on my iPod. I simply cannot wait for their debut album. An early set Vintage Books was a delight, as it was a notable absentee from their gig at The Toff, meaning it will probably not be on ‘Bliss Release’.

The crowd really was very warm towards Cloud Control, and the set had the feel of a main act rather than a support act, with the Corner packed to capacity and everyone congregating around the main stage. Gold Canary was greeted with applause of course, but I also greatly enjoyed the new songs. It was very cool to see a rotating selection of Yves Klein Blue members singing along and clapping from the side of the stage.

At one point Al got the entire crowd to put their hands in the air and then clap along with the song, which is a true achievement for an opening act, and made for an amazing atmosphere- “You have no idea how good that looks from up here,” said Al happily. At the time he was right, even if things would change towards the end of the gig.

Ghost Town was awesome as always, even with a drum-cover substituting for an actual drum as bassist Jeremy used reinforced drumsticks, perhaps having learnt from The Toff gig, where one of his drumsticks disintegrated from some very enthusiastic drumming. “You’re meant to clap for the whole song,” explained Al, but it was easy to tell he was joking, because you couldn’t wipe the smile off any of the band members’ faces.

The set finished with fan favourite Buffalo Country. And it was good. Really good. It is just an awesome song, and is so very very catchy. It’s amazing that it hasn’t got more mainstream attention, but it was greeted with a warm round of applause from the Corner and gave the crowd an excuse to move around a bit in anticipation for the main act.

Cloud Control were for all the world a main act. I would have been more than happy going to this gig and see Last Dinosaurs and Cloud Control- they were both just superb, and they have a very bright future ahead of them. I simply cannot wait for ‘Bliss Release’ (wow that is an odd sounding sentence).However this being said it was also obvious from this show just how much a Cloud Control gig benefits from throwing in a few of their older songs.

It was wonderful to see the guys in their element, playing in front of an absolutely packed crowd.

After Cloud Control’s set finished the curtains closed on the stage and the push towards the front intensified. It was nothing compared to larger gigs or indeed Children Collide’s gig at the Corner, but it was still uncomfortable. I met a few people I knew in the crowd around me however which was cool, and twenty minutes really was a relatively short time to wait. The curtains opened, the crowd went absolutely insane, and Yves Klein Blue took to the stage.

Bassist Sean, guitarist Charles, drummer Chris, and of course frontman Michael; it felt like I knew them personally by this point. Never ones to waste time, they instantly broke into the tried and tested opener of Dinosaur. Straight away the energy in the packed Corner Hotel reached an absolute fever pitch, as a mosh pit formed towards the front and Nick and myself found ourselves, just as we had planned, right in the middle of it.

It simply never gets old singing along to every word of an Yves Klein Blue song. Dinosaur was wonderful as always, as the entire crowd took pleasure in screaming “And it didn’t tell me lies in fact it didn’t tell me shit” and “We’ve only fucked ourselves” in particular. Michael strode around the stage as always, and absolutely owned the room right from the start.

Next up was Silence Is Distance, which of course did nothing to dissuade the insane energy towards the front of the crowd, and passed in a happy blur of screaming and jumping. Make Up Your Mind saw Michael retreat to the keyboard and play the same introduction to the song as he had the last few times I had seen him live. Although most of the crowd had no idea what was about to come, Nick and I looked at each other and said at the same time “Make Up Your Mind” in an all-knowing way, and we weren’t disappointed.

“You guys are fucking amazing,” said Michael almost in awe, and it really did seem like he was genuinely surprised at the immensely warm reception the band we getting at the sold out venue. There was a lot of love for the boys from Brisbane in the room. Chris had promised us three new songs when we had chatted to him earlier in the week, and the first of these was Broken Arm, which they had also played when they opened for Franz Ferdinand. It is a wonderful song and I can easily imagine it fitting into their sophomore album. I am also proud to say that I actually knew the words to it.

Summer Sheets was next and was fun as always, even if it doesn’t quite translate as well live as other Yves Klein Blue songs do (it is definitely in need of a horns section). Another new song was played and provided a chance to snap a few photos while the energy subsided slightly and there was less jumping up and down. It was however a real treat to hear new songs after having seen the boys live so many times, and I got the feeling throughout the whole show that Yves Klein Blue were gearing this gig towards dedicated fans.

Yves Klein Blue have nearly always played a cover as part of their gigs, and The Corner was no different, as Michael strapped on a harmonica and the band broke into Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side. I would have preferred Born To Run, but I will enjoy any song that these guys play, and this cover was still sublime. Digital Love got the mosh going again, and it is definitely one of those songs that works way better live than in studio form.

Then came the final of the trio of new songs, which I believe was called Ghost Story. I loved this song, and, following on from the energy of the previous song, found it easy to get really into it, even if those around me weren’t. At the end of the song Michael pointed directly at me and said “Thanks to the guy at the front,” having noticed my enthusiasm, which made me very happy.

The rest of the band left Michael on stage as they walked off, and every single person knew what was coming, which was only asserted when Michael asked “Do you know what song I’m going to play?” and there was an emphatic screaming answer of “ABOUT THE FUTURE!”. It was yet another emotional and superb rendition of the new single, even if I still far prefer it with an acoustic guitar as opposed to the electric that Michael used. Regardless, it was amazing to sing along with every word as Michael bordered on tears towards the end of the song as he always seems to somehow manage. It is a powerhouse song.

The band returned onto the stage, and the unmistakable opening guitar riff of Polka sent the crowd into an absolute rapture. I’ll never get sick of hearing this song live, and Michael once again let the crowd sing the first verse, and we didn’t let him down, absolutely belting out the lyrics in perfect time. “REMEMBER THAT’S MUCH BETTER THAN NEVER EVER GETTING ENOUGH” was sung or screamed by every person in The Corner, with arms outstretched. It was also very memorable when Nick and I screamed “CHAAAARLES” along with Michael- if you’ve never noticed this gem then have a listen to the 3:02 mark of Polka for Michael’s unique way of throwing to Yves Klein Blue’s guitarist for a solo.

Polka‘s extended ending saw Michael crowdsurf, and for a brief moment he was directly on top of me as I helped to support and him a ruffled his hair in an appreciative way. It was a very temporary crowdsurf and was nowhere near as legendary as his performance at Hombake, for he was thrown unceremoniously back onto the stage in short notice, as if the crowd was saying ‘You’re not done quite yet’.

The mosh for Polka had been insane, as the entire room shifted from side to side, and before we had even had a chance to applaud and scream our appreciation properly, the end of the song had merged into the beginning of Queeny, and everything was a blur once again. Even though I felt like I was going to pass out towards the end of Polka I managed to have a thoroughly good time to this song- it is after all one of my (many) favourite live Yves Klein Blue tracks.

And then, after what seemed like no time at all, came the final song of Yves Klein Blue’s set, a little number called Getting Wise. Oh how I love it. And this was the best live rendition of it I have heard. The crowd were going absolutely mental, excited to a fever pitch by the previous few songs and ready to release the last of our energy. The infectious keyboard riff (coming from the Loland keyboard of course) washed over the room, and every person sung every word of that opening verse, at the same time as jumping up and down as high as possible.

Just when I was thinking the song was about to wrap up, and already contemplating how it was one of my favourite gigs of all time, out of nowhere, the entire entourage of opening acts appeared on the stage. All the members of Last Dinosaurs and Cloud Control were on the stage, dancing and having an awesome time, and Sean of Last Dinosaurs even threw his prized pirate hat into the crowd, and of all the people to grab it, the guy who had originally requested it made a desperate diving lunge and secured it.

It was amazingly energetic and fun having so many people on the stage, and the energy of the crowd lifted even further, which seemed impossible. Surely, the gig was about to finish?

But no, Getting Wise just kept on going- it was a truly ultra-extended version of it. And then, with no warning at all, while the Yves Klein Blue boys were still playing the song, the support acts started inviting people up onto the stage. Whether or not it was planned (and I’m guessing it wasn’t), it was supremely cool. What followed was a sheer stage invasion, where the first few rows jumped joyfully onto the stage and mingled with Yves Klein Blue, Cloud Control, and Last Dinosaurs, dancing wildly and singing loudly.

I managed to clamber up on stage and found myself right near Michael, who was oddly being ignored by most of those on the stage. And, all of a sudden, almost as if it was only natural, I found myself singing a chorus of Getting Wise with Michael Tomlinson, our arms around each other, as he actually looked directly at me and sung along with me into the mic, both of us smiling as broadly as we could, sharing a moment that, at least for me, was very very special. “If you want to walk that way, we’re getting wise trying to find our feet”.

It was a moment I will never forget.

And then the song was over. And, looking out into the crowd, I understood what Al meant when he said “You have no idea how good that looks from up here”. The Corner Hotel really did look oddly beautiful from the stage, as everyone was still jumping up and down and clapping wildly. And I just stood there, on the stage, surrounded by three of my favourite Australian bands, just soaking up the moment. It  was strangely serene. In that moment the divide between band and crowd no longer existed.

The gig was over. The song seemed to stop suddenly, making me think that the ultra-extended edition had not been planned. I lost Michael in the rush of people scampering around the stage trying to secure some kind of band memorabilia, but suddenly that didn’t seem very important to me. I soaked up the atmosphere from the stage one more time, then stumbled off the stage, actually physically shaking through a combination of disbelief and sheer exhaustion.

It had been undoubtedly the most enjoyable gig of my life. It was already brilliant before the stage invasion, but that just sealed the night as one of the more memorable I have ever experienced. After the anticipation of a Phoenix stage invasion and then being disappointed, it was so awesome to get on stage with Yves Klein Blue, and to Getting Wise nonetheless. Let along singing the song with Michael. Wow.

Yves Klein Blue were just supremely awesome, but credit must also be given to the crowd for making it such an amazing night- the atmosphere was just perfect. Also props to the Corner security staff for allowing the stage invasion to take place, although I doubt there was much they could have done to stop it anyway.

After sculling several glasses of water, Nick and I hung around afterwards in the hope of meeting a few of the band members. Yves Klein Blue are one of the bands that really like to take care of their fans- at most of their shows I have been to they just hung around afterwards chatting and chilling. Sure enough we managed to meet all of the performers that night.

We firstly had a brief chat with Al from Cloud Control, who was very appreciative when we told him how much we enjoyed Cloud Control’s set. Having brought my camera for once we also got a photo with him which was cool. We then did the same with Sean from Last Dinosaurs, who was as friendly and funny in person as he was on the stage- he was very surprised when we told him we were at their East Brunswick Club gig, remarking “But there was like no-one there!”. Another photo session followed.

The boys from Yves Klein Blue headed over to the merch stand where naturally a queue formed to get to them. We waited our turn however and very soon were talking to none other than Michael Tomlinson, one of my idols. He definitely remembered me from the stage singing and perhaps from previous gigs and we had a brief but enjoyable chat that included me spilling his beer accidentally because I was clumsy and in awe.

He was genuinely nice however, and I couldn’t imagine a more friendly person. He was delighted to hear that this was my fifth time seeing Yves Klein Blue live (I got the number wrong, but who cares the point is I have seen them live many times), and agreed with me when I said this was my favourite set of theirs so far. In fact judging by what he wrote on my poster (as part of a small essay that I really appreciate), “I concur, best one ever,” I think this might just have been Michael’s personal favourite gig, which is saying something. Two photos and two signed posters later, we left Michael to talk to the many other waiting fans.

We also briefly met Sean from Yves Klein Blue who signed our posters as well, and then met up with Chris, who we had chatted to for quite a while at Cloud Control’s gig at The Toff. He recognised us straight away, saying “Hey you guys” when he saw us, which was really cool. We had a brief chat with him but by this point security were ushering people out of the venue. He seemed slightly annoyed that his drumsticks had been stolen during the stage invasion, but agreed that it was an amazing gig and a great venue. Two final photos later and we were done.

I actually really felt sorry for the people up on the stage during the crowd invasion who just spent the whole time searching for setlists to take and equipment to steal. It was almost like the memory of being on the stage with Yves Klein Blue during a set wasn’t enough for them.

I know it certainly is for me.

It was my absolute favourite gig of all time. If I sound like a rambling fanboy it’s because I am, and I really don’t care if I am. I just love this band, and live they are spectacular. The atmosphere was incredible, and the performance was faultless. In fact I find it hard to imagine that this wouldn’t have been one of Yves Klein Blue’s favourite ever gigs.

Personally my highlights included the stage invasion of course, singing Getting Wise with Michael right at the front of the stage in front of hundreds of people (if anyone has video/photos of the stage invasion I would love you forever), screaming “Chaaarles”, having Michael point at me and say ‘Thanks to the guy in the front”, Buffalo Country, the moments when Michael would look down and see me singing more loudly and going more crazy than those around me and smile slightly, Honolulu, and so many other moments and other songs.

For once, Nick and I got to be the crazy people at a gig that everyone just looks at thinks “they’re going way too hard and liking this way too much”.

It was so very much fun, full of moments that rank very highly not only in terms of my live music career but also in terms of my life. Come back to Melbourne soon please, everyone involved.

One Response to “Gig Review: Yves Klein Blue @ Corner Hotel, 19th March”

  1. Ahh you’re so wonderful!
    They are three of my favourite bands, and I remember being so stoked to hear when they announced the tour together. I am so glad somebody else enjoys some of the exact same parts of their gigs as me (and yes, the CHAARRLLES in polka is one of them aha), and when Michael lets you feel just a little bit special when he sings to you and gives you a knowing smile :)
    I was (one of) the girls going nuts in the front row..singing along from the get go, right from the dinos :) amazing gig huh!
    i can’t wait to see some photos too, they’re always a ice momento to have to reminisce on the good times.
    much ykb love to you.

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