"It's D.I.Y Ennit" by YNES at the LTB Showrooms

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"It's D.I.Y Ennit" by YNES at the LTB Showrooms


From time to time, "severe weather events" with their own names hit the UK: earlier this month we had Storm Kathleen and now Hurricane YNES has blasted in across the Atlantic.

All too recently the most potent force of nature on the local scene & one so many people were tipping for success, Great Britain became too small and parochial to contain her. Now based in Vancouver, (check out the album of a live acoustic set of the ‘Born Loser' songs she recorded there which we reviewed in December), I was delighted when she surprised everyone (as is her style), with news of two British shows: at The Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham on Monday & last night's  "It's D.I.Y Ennit" self-promoted home town gig at the LTB.

The cyclonic side of her was much in evidence from the speed in which the gig came together to her semi-chaotic stage presence to the passion & commitment to her songs.

However, as I'd like to think that my reviews have suggested, there has always been more to her than this aspect & Canada has helped bring out other aspects more. Songs composed there have dialled back some of the overt anger (let's face it, living in Vancouver must affect mood & vibes differently to Coventry), but the personal vulnerability & fragility underneath the noise is a key trait.

The songs, as my review of the live acoustic release said, are robust enough to have value and impact in various settings and arrangements: from the overdubbed versions made in Woodbine Studio with John Rivers to the acoustic café ones to the ones we probably know best (and heard tonight): solo with electric guitar.

It was a stark, almost skeletal set: (no scope for her writhing on the floor tonight) with just the guitar and this brought out the pathos and the moments of near self laceration (it's a good job that her between songs patter tends towards the humorous & self deprecatory as otherwise it is in truth potentially very dark matter).

The set bounced between all phases of her career to date (it included the rarely played "Five Minutes Time" from the ‘Front Room Sessions' COVID compilation) and included more recent, unrecorded material (including one (working title "Kid") which got aborted before she even started it as she hadn't got the words in her head yet) and ranged from the upbeat-with-melancholy (e.g. "Used To Be") to the raw & purely melancholic.

It was good to have her back: even for a short while. Unlike the overblown & histrionic divas who shamelessly try & evoke emotions through excess & hyperbole, YNES has a real heart & a rare capacity to nail down actual emotions through genuine images told in language we all can relate to, but few can write in.

I have no idea where her career is going: as you know she's not only high in the esteem of our local scene but rated by Billy Bragg himself, so possibilities are many. To some extent, she seems to thrive on degrees of spontaneity (I refer you back to the "Hurricane YNES" comment) and that's a strength as it sets her apart from those more cynically seeking "success" via conventional routes. I doubt she knows precisely herself, but I look forwards to experiencing & relaying to you all that she ends up doing: and I don't have the skills to predict her moves at all.

YNES chose to close her main set with "I Wanna Be Overrated" which I think was a really good choice as it more or less epitomises my comments above: an emotionally complex yet staggeringly deeply personal song, its power originates with its composition & then gets amplified by her performance.

 However, audience demand resulted in an encore of "The Daily Male" which as I agree totally with the sentiments she expresses in it, was much to my personal taste & demonstrated the side of her the world probably knows the best so far: YNES precisely skewering those who merit being skewered.

You can catch YNES on the final date of her UK tour on Monday 22nd April at the Sunflower Lounge.

Meanwhile, Alan Denyer (who did a great job on the sound desk in addition to his host role) shared with me the great news that the LTB Showrooms have a stay of execution until September, so please look out for many more great gigs there over the next few months.

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