The word idiosyncratic seems a perfect fit for Yo La Tengo. Over 30+ years they’ve gone their own sweet way, garnered regular critical acclaim without huge commercial success, and built a devoted fan base who love them to bits.
And a sold out Komedia bustled with twentysomething hipster beards through to grizzled indie vets in their 60s, as the New Jersey trio delivered their endearing ‘freewheeling’ show, taking questions from the crowd in between their 14-song set.
With a pared down semi-acoustic vibe, Ira and Georgia took it in turns on lead vocal, the latter playing a minimalist stand-up drum kit, the former switching guitars, with James McNew on bass and backing vocal.
As ever, there were covers aplenty from Them’s Gloria to Johnny Cash’s I Still Miss Someone, the Bonzos’ I Want To Be With You to the final encore of Daniel Johnston’s Speeding Motorcycle.
And YLT favorites peppered the rest, including Shaker, All Your Secrets, Big Day Coming and Here You Are. Plangent tunes, sweet harmonies and their delightfully off-kilter lyrical sensibilities all present and correct.
We also learned, from crowd questions, James once spilled a drink over the Kinks’ Dave Davies, Georgia talked to John Lennon by mistake, and if they hadn’t formed YLT they’d have liked to be in Sun Ra Arkestra, The Clean or Black Flag (whose Nervous Breakdown they gleefully raced through).
Oh, and Colman’s Mustard is always on their rider. Hot stuff.