“We are You Me at Six,” singer Josh Franceschi tells a packed O2 Academy Leeds on a wintery Wednesday night, “and this is where we started.”
The 28-year-old frontman isn’t so much referring to locale as he is to their history; the Surrey five-piece have been bitten by the full-album performance bug and are in West Yorkshire on a tenth anniversary run featuring debut Take Off Your Colours in its entirety.
Billed as a celebration on paper, it’s less of a sweaty, sparky throwback than anticipated in practice; instead, it plays more with the social maturity of a cocktail bar gathering than an illicit teenage piss-up party.
The first hour is given over entirely to …Colours and the band’s choice to revisit it makes for a curious artistic call since their latest and most lauded offering yet, VI, only came out two months ago. But it’s not difficult to draw the correlation between the two, released a decade apart, especially given how You Me at Six upscale such older material sonically from angst-ridden to arena-ready anthemics.
Opener The Truth Is a Terrible Thing’s bubblegum punk thrills are buffed up to a glossy sheen; Call That a Comeback and Jealous Minds Think Alike are rendered more muscular and beefy. Save It for the Bedroom’s sheer hook-heaviness sounds positively monolithic.
It’s all positively gleaming and immaculately delivered, but there’s an unvarnished edge missing to it that feels just out of reach. Franceschi isn’t initially helped by the crowd either; he gives it his all and then some throughout, with his naked holler on the widescreen balladry of Always Attract a high point. But though the band seem game, they receive polite interest over raw abandon from a capacity audience for …Colours, moderately enthused rather than wildly energetic.
That all changes with an extended, nine-song encore though. As if a switch has been flipped, both band and fans go stratospheric with the jackhammer electro-rock of Fast Forward and the visceral circle pits of Reckless. It is a cathartic eruption, a blistering synergy between the two that powers its way through I O U’s limber groove-funk and Bite My Tongue’s post-hardcore riffs.
They close out with the head-banging, fist-pumping Underdog, Franceschi bellowing that they will be back for next year’s Reading and Leeds Festivals.
If they can bring the visceral delirium of their second-act here, they’ll tear the place to the ground.