I met the guitarist from Yo La Tengo, Ira Kaplan, after the show. He was curious about the band t-shirt I was wearing and asked me about it. I said it was a Swedish pop band called Fever Ray, only to get a ‘oh… okay.’ from him before he moved on to the next fan. So it goes.
Though I guess maybe someone may see the name ‘Yo La Tengo’ on gig posters and wonder the same thing. The loudest quiet band in the planet… oh okay. No, it’s more than okay! Okay?
For this latest tour the band ditched support for a double set. That’s twice the Tengo to squeeze in as much of their thirty plus year career, and who would want less? They played new things, old things, unusual things, everything. Though with two sets to play with, they went for two different moods, soft sombre picks on one set, loud noise pop bliss on the other, that’s the band all over, and at Manchester Academy (2) they made it clear that they can jump between the two at the flick of a moog.
Set one was the quiet one, a series of songs for those who enjoy albums such as ‘…And Then Nothing Turns Itself Out’, and their latest ‘There’s A Riot Going On’. The drones and vintage pop vocals are so quiet you can hear the drop of a plastic cup, and many were dropped. The music provided a calming atmosphere for those with the patience for stuff like that there, and with ‘The Crying Of Lot G‘, a song I used to play after arguments back when, emotions ran deep.
If you could hear the drop of a plastic cup in set one, in set two you could feel the floor in which the plastic cups had landed upon vibrate and quake. Set two was the noisy one, even if they still had a series of quiet pieces floating in between, it’s Yo La Tengo still, after all. ‘False Alarm‘ brought along a series of synthesised noise the likes of Sun Ra would be proud of, and ‘Sugarcube‘ was there too, that one hit in three decades, of course.
Being Manchester and all, a cover was a must, and so we got ‘Dream On‘ by ‘who?’ (Herman’s Hermits), which is par for the course when it comes to the bands ability to find the deepest cuts in a place made of stone and cemetery gates.
Soft and loud, you need both (and a few obscure covers) to make a truly true Yo La Tengo show. Double the fun meant the band had time to let the music breathe, and even when they tried to scream, it was still so fuzzy and sweet.
That’s Yo Le Tengo live… oh, okay.