Yonaka + tiLLie + The Ninth Wave

Thursday 30th May 2019

Heaven, London

Warning! Do not listen to any of the following bands if you have any disposition to waking up in the middle of the night humming along to catchy little riffs and melodies that just won’t go away. I spent last Thursday night with three bands who did nothing but bombard my little brain with ear worms that have wrecked my every waking and sleeping moment since!  Am I complaining? No of course not!  I even paid good money for the privilege of becoming a virtual insomniac!
 
Heaven is fast becoming one of my favourite venues, famous as the home of one of London’s top nightclubs, it has a subterranean feel tucked away underneath Charing Cross station. The brick arches in the venue house a series of mini-bars giving excellent access to refreshment - spacious but intimate at the same time. The stage is built quite high giving an excellent view of the bands from the floor.  And the gig is sold out - there is even a queue of eager fans waiting for the doors to open as we pop into a bar just off Villiers Street to prepare us for the melodic onslaught to come. This is no real surprise to me having been exposed to a growing scene of “Post-Punk, Anti-Pop” music on Spotify. I have joined the hundreds of thousands of followers streaming millions of plays for these bands pushing melodic, but powerful music and forming the basis of my own playlists which have been the soundtrack of my commute to work for several months now.
 
The headliners are Yonaka who are launching their first album ‘Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow’ tomorrow. They formed in 2014 at college in Brighton and already have 3 EP's and a clutch of singles to their name. On the list for this year’s Kerrang Best British Breakthrough Act, they have just finished supporting ‘Bring Me The Horizon’ and are out on their own headline tour. The heritage of this type of music owes a lot to Republica and Gwen Steffani, but that over simple comparison is really too lazy because it does not do justice to the talent and unique sound of the bands here.
 
We kick off with tiLLie, a female vocalist with a powerful and beautiful voice from Atlanta, GA. She has a new EP entitled ‘Loud Mouth’ which has a good variety of tunes which really gets the gig off to a fantastic start.  As I type this, I’m humming along to the title track of the EP!
 
The second act are ‘The Ninth Wave’ who come from Glasgow, which only partially explains why Haydn Park-Patterson comes on stage bare chested wearing an ankle length tartan skirt (or maybe it was a kilt for a giant?). From the joys of the Spotify ‘you might like’ feature (which drives some mad), I have already had some exposure to The Ninth Wave, but up to now they have never made it onto my playlist for no particular good reason it seems. The opening synths and sequencing places us back in the 80's but the Post-Punky guitars pulls us back into the twenty first century.  The vocals are shared between Haydn and Amelia Kidd also on bass. Again, great songs with variety in the music and nice atmospherics between tracks link the set together to produce great entertainment. Not only two support acts, but acts I would happily go and see as headliners in their own right.  
But then the actual headliners burst onto the stage buzzing with energy - Yonaka enter the fray.  The floor is packed and the balconies heaving. Theresa Jarvis is the lead singer, hair in side bunches and thigh length boots she is bouncing all over the stage – and the crowd are bouncing too in empathy. Jarvis’s voice is impressive, great tones and versatility. From a staccato ‘Sing Talking’ to soaring top notes and trade mark chants – she belts out those melodies which have haunted my sleep patterns ever since!  And the crowd love it singing back the lyrics and chants to ‘Fired Up’, ‘Bad Company’ and ‘Death By Love’ from the 'Creature; EP.  Where pre-recorded harmonies are fed in, the live vocal is no different – the girl can sing! 
 
The songs are well crafted and the band have an excellent sound, George Edwards on guitar is also bare chested and thrashes around with great energy except when he pauses for an acoustic version of ‘Guilty (For Your Love)’ which shows off even more Theresa’s vocal ability.  Bass is thumped out by Alex Crosby and the whole thing is pervasively held together by Robert Mason on drums. The light show emphasises the power and energy of the band as the beams of light shine out in a strange 3D strobe effect. This band are definitely on the up and have been tracked by the Guardian and Kerrang as ‘one's to watch’. With the festival season nearly upon us, if you spot Yonaka on the line up, go and see them. Or put them on your Spotify play list.  Your only regret will be sleepless nights for the rest of your life (but then again, probably worth it!).
 
 
Chris Bourlet