Live Review: Wu Lyf

Village Underground, London, June 17th

Tom Oxley/NME
Pic: Tom Oxley/NME
If a band’s age were measured in blog mentions, then Wu Lyf would be approaching retirement at a rate of knots. Declining all label offers, and instead self-releasing their debut album ‘Go Tell Fire To The Mountain’, the Manchester group (full title: World Unite! Lucifer Youth Foundation) only recently deigned to reveal their faces (and their names), partly due to their Svengali-like manager, partly due to their lack of interest in “narcissism”. Despite all the surrounding hubbub, this is Wu Lyf’s first tour with a proper sound system, and speculation as to whether they’ll pull it off abounds. There’s an undeniable sense of anticipation.

They arrive onstage to ghostly wolf howls, with their equipment set up beneath their now-customary giant illuminated crucifix-like symbol. Set and album opener ‘LYF’ sets the tone immediately as singer Ellery Roberts screeches and howls like a man possessed. ‘Cave Song’ consists of a Broken Social Scene skeleton with Frank Black vocals, while the organ backing is reminiscent of a Pentecostal preacher. Although the vocal theatrics are all in place, there’s a niggling feeling that, perhaps, it might somehow just… not suffice to have four guys merely playing away merrily onstage. Surely there ought to be more to WU LYF than this? Where’s the sacrificial goat? Or, at the very least, the audience participation?

Luckily, just as ‘Summas Bliss’ leaves the crowd wondering whether Wu Lyf can carry the weight of the critical expectations placed upon their shoulders, there’s a fantastic, rhythmic two-player drum breakdown, which segues straight into joyous single ‘Spitting Blood’. After ‘Concrete Gold’ seems to have sealed the deal, the group mysteriously leave the stage. The same ghostly music from the beginning of the set plays, the obnoxious strobe lights that have been flickering all evening are turned down, and things get interesting.

Dimly-lit, chests bare, beneath the glow of the crucifix, Wu Lyf launch into the demonic ‘Heavy Pop’. This is more like it. By the time encore ‘We Bros’ comes around, the stage has been crashed by punters, and the crowd-surfing is well underway. Some have grabbed drums and are pounding them Bacchanal-style, others are pouring water over their heads, one is simply jumping up and down excitedly. It’s an end-of-days party, and it’s only just begun. Energetic, vibrant and bountiful – Lucifer Youth Foundation, unite.

Ailbhe Malone

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