Yungblud - Live Review - Wembley Arena, London

Yungblud - Live Review - Wembley Arena, London

by Mils / Feb 28, 2023 / 0 comments
Sunday, 19 March 2023

Yungblud wraps his first UK arena tour with a thrilling Wembley show that combines newfound spectacle with a familiar intimacy.

Inclusion is important to Yungblud. His songs, which touch on everything from gender identity and prescription pharmaceuticals to mental health and family dysfunction, preach self-acceptance and resisting society’s pressures to conform. His fanbase, the Black Hearts Club, is built on what’s described as a shared sense of unconditional love and communal support.

His live shows are about connecting with everyone in the venue. Early in tonight’s sold-out Wembley Arena show, he urges we treat everyone with respect. Later, while introducing Anarchist, he declares: “Never be afraid to be yourself. If people don’t like you for it, they’ve got no fucking imagination. You’re fucking brilliant just the way you are. “People still misunderstand me. They’ll never fucking get it. But it doesn’t matter because we’ve got each other.” But inclusion and connection become trickier the bigger the venue. The skyrocketing pop-punk star born Dominic Harrison knows this. He even admits an initial reluctance to play arenas: he’d be physically distanced from the audience, unable to actually touch them. “But you are Yungblud,” he announces, before bounding into the crowd, clambering up into one of the seating blocks, mingling with overexcited fans, and ultimately leading a capella singalong of Fleabag from the balcony.

Yungblud: Wembley Arena, London – live review

It’s just one of several ways this thrilling show bridges the gap from the stage to the back rows of the 12,500-capacity Wembley Arena. Multiple cameras roam the floor, projecting almost as many shots of ecstatic fans as of Yungblud himself on the giant video screens. About halfway through the show, he returns to the venue floor to greet people, eventually stopping to chat to Jasmine from Hampshire and asking her to pick the next song. (California beats out Psychotic Kids.) There’s even a dedicated safe space area within the venue for “fans to take time out, work through any emotional distress and speak with a qualified mental health professional”.

Perhaps the most effective device, though, is the B stage set up in the middle of the arena. A stark platform, featuring just a toilet and bathroom sink, it allows Yungblud to be closer to his adoring fans for a run of songs midway through the set. One of these, Sex Not Violence, features a dark animated fairytale involving three teenagers filled with fear and self-loathing, a wish-granting demon, monsters in a forest that cut people into little pieces, and a take-home message that — no matter what you feel — you’re not alone.

Yungblud: Wembley Arena, London – live reviewThe film’s accompanied by a sudden downpour of rain over Yungblud. Although he has an umbrella, by this point it wouldn’t make a difference. He’s drenched in sweat already. Clearly, while a big-budget creative director can help make a venue this size seem smaller, you can’t fabricate what really counts at any gig: the relentless enthusiasm of a performance and the unfiltered honesty of between-song conversation. While he could easily let the flames, fireballs, rain machine, and confetti cannons do the heavy lifting, Yungblud runs from side to side of the stage, jumps up with his knees to his chest, hops in circles on one leg, spins around with the mic stand behind his head, pulls off superhero poses with arms thrust in the air, and conducts the audience’s cheers with elaborate gestures.

As for the banter, he gets strangers to greet, embrace, and lock arms to sway in unison; wishes his granddad (“a right mad bastard”) a happy birthday; and shares a story of how, right at the beginning of his career, he and guitarist Adam Warrington would walk into their “shitty rehearsal studio” and shout: “Alright fucking Wembley”. Unsurprisingly, it’s a phrase repeated often tonight and helps explain his unbridled joy throughout a show that draws equally from his three studio albums.

Like, say, Twenty One Pilots, Yungblud is as inspired by Eminem as Robert Smith, so songs shift from The Funeral (Billy Idol fronts The Cure) and the Close To Me-sampling Tissues to the grimey punk of Strawberry Lipstick via the hip-hoppy Parents, Medication, and Die For The Hype. Most ambitious though is Sweet Heroine. Less than three minutes long on his latest, self-titled, album, in concert, it becomes an epic that begins with just piano and voice and culminates in a mass Kumbaya-style singalong.

The glorious indie rocker The Boy In The Black Dress (surely a hit in waiting) and Brit-poppy Loner (with a classic “woah” refrain written for rooms this size) really drive the show home, a still hyperactive Yungblud seemingly unfazed by the previous 90 minutes of running, jumping, cheerleading, and singing. In an Instagram story clearly filmed right after the show, he can be seen dancing down a corridor towards his dressing room, chanting “Wembley, Wembley, Wembley” before declaring: “Best gig of my life”.

If Yungblud still had any reservations about playing arenas, they’re surely gone now.

Rating out of 11: