May 4, 2004
Yeah Yeah Yeahs : Glasgow Barrowlands
The band make a triumphant UK return...
There's a strong case to be made for the argument that Karen O should accept sole responsibility for each and every heinous fashion crime that currently plagues the landscape of indie rock. Look around tonight and you'll see mullets whose angles defy the laws of physics, tights whose patterns come with migraine warnings and make-up that scoffs in the face of proper application. And that's just the boys.
Yet, as she bounds onstage to the throbbing sound of 'Y Control' after a drawn-out entrance taken straight from the Stadium Rock Handbook,
it dawns on us that though she may be dressed like Krusty The Clown in drag, Karen O is that rarest of things: a star, and the kind that no amount of affected ballsy bluster can fake. When she's onstage, it doesn't matter that one look at boho-pixie guitarist Nick Zinner is enough to want to kick him to death, or that drummer Brian Chase resembles a particularly dedicated geology student - when the Lady O speaks, sings,
warbles or yelps, you listen. Or at least, you
try to. Because, can-can-ing across the stage
like some PCP-fuelled cheerleader at the Ramones' rock'n'roll high school during the buoyant 'Pin', she makes some racket. Right in
the middle of the X-rated raunchathon that is new song 'Down Boy' she simultaneously fellates the microphone and howls rabidly. The PA-frazzling
din is enough to make the band's press officer cover her ears and wince in pain but crucially,
no-one's feet stop tapping, no-one's asses stop moving, and certainly no-one's attention deviates from the eye of the storm.
Yet the larks cease the moment Nick Zinner sparks up 'Maps'' tentative guitar intro. Standing stock-still, Karen resists her natural impulses to simulate phone-sex, dance like a crazed Day-Glo leprechaun and flash her undercrackers to the front rows - she just sings. She sheds no tears tonight, but she's probably the only one.
all, you know there's magic at work when 2,000 pissed-to-the-gills Glaswegians simultaneously
get something in their eye just as that haunting refrain kicks in…
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday