US indie cohort Yo La Tengo don’t come ’round these parts all too often, so their first Manchester date in five years was a special occasion for fans. Coming together in late-eighties New Jersey, Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew have quietly and confidently built up a devoted fanbase and continued acclaim within their corner of introspective indie rock, which now sees them fifteen albums-deep courtesy of latest release ‘There’s a Riot Going On‘.
For their evening at Manchester Academy 2 (and most of their tour, it seems) they act as their own support, offering two sets over the evening with no other acts on the bill. We’ll dive straight in, then. Things kick off with a deep, droning instrumental rendition of new track ‘You Are Here’, before opening into a reserved, stripped-back set of pieces which sees all three members instrument-hopping throughout. It’s a sedated first half, which feels most refined when Georgia Hubley is behind the mic. Though we were begging for a kick drum by the end of the first hour, thankfully things take off a little in the second half.
A brief intermission is followed by some of their finest moments from the nineties. ‘Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1)’ from 1995’s ‘Electr-O-Pura’, and 1997’s ‘I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One’ really get the crowd’s collective hearts beating, and there are welcome pieces from the latest album, including ‘For You Too’ and ‘Shades Of Blue’. When not being the mic, Hubley’s percussive work provide foundations for the rest of the band, framed with Kaplin’s discordant guitar solos. For a set which took a little while to get into gear, it’s a very special night for the fans. Worth every penny, the evening is packed with 22 songs, though some of the evening’s finest moments come during a 3-track encore, including a rendition of Devo’s ‘Gates of Steel‘ and a take of Manchester rockers Herman’s Hermits’ ‘Dream On‘.
Yo La Tengo performed at Manchester Academy 2 on Monday 30th April 2018.