Hoxton Hall, London
Yves Tumor’s live shows have long been the stuff of legend.
Tales of abrasive, distorted noise blaring through club sound systems and intense charges into the crowd have circulated around venues and festivals since the Tennessee producer first emerged in 2015. These stories added to the Yves mythos – a musical and aesthetic universe where moments of soft, sensitive beauty linger between harsh shocks of noise.
On Safe in the Hands of Love, Tumor’s third studio record which was released without warning on Warp Records earlier this year, is the sound of his experimental pop sound blooming. Flickering between post-Britpop swagger, elegant cello solos, caustic sound design and bright songwriting, it’s a radical genre-fluid statement that cements Yves as an artist apart.
And it’s a shift reflected in his live show. At a sold out show at Hoxton Hall (tickets went in minutes), the laptop has been traded out for a live band and the often intense lighting setup has been swapped for smokey, lingering stage lights creating a kind of East Village pastiche.
Across a short but impactful set, Yves prowls the stage in tight spandex trousers with a low cut around the crotch like a hair metal pin-up. Lifting largely from the new LP, his pop songs sound tight, rehearsed and fully deserving of the full band setup. Tracks like Recognizing the Enemy and Licking an Orchid thrive in this retro atmosphere, and Yves looks and sounds fully realised as a channel for these sounds and tones to flow through. His intoxicating vocals land with the same soft impact as they do on record and the band bring a raw looseness that the album’s sleek production misses.
Given that his previous shows were marked by distortion and obfuscation, this re-emergence as a frontman feels all the more radical. At previous shows, he’d dart into the crowd to encourage chaos, throwing people against each other and losing himself in the commotion. Here he just slinks through his audience, mic in hand and shades on, entering a new chapter.