YUNGBLUD blows a Strawberry Lipstick kiss to Liverpool in tour finale!
You have probably come across Dominic Harrison (AKA YUNGBLUD) at some point or another whether you like him or not. His high-energy, loud mouthed Northern persona is hard to ignore. From his bright and bold outfits and hairstyles to his eclectic discography that includes collaborations with Machine Gun Kelly, KSI, Halsey and Travis Barker, there is little about him that is quiet. So if you somehow thought that his live shows would be a half-hearted, run-of-the-mill affair then you couldn't be more wrong. After seeing YUNGBLUD grow from playing Jimmy's in Manchester to 50 people and even trying to book him for a show myself (but not being able to pay his £60 fee) to being on the cover of NME I had to venture out once more to see how the lovable hyperactive Rockstar has evolved in a live setting.
In true YUNGBLUD fashion, he had my eyebrows raised before the show had even begun. After walking past the longest gig queue I have ever seen I entered the venue and managed to catch a really vibrant set from renforshort who is certainly worth checking out. She managed to tap into the BHC fanbase instantly opening with the punchy Skater girl vibes of 'virtual reality' and slipping in her own sassy take on 'Feel Good Inc'. The crowd then waited in anticipation for Dom to arrive and when I say anticipation, I don't think I've ever seen anything like it! The whole room was simmering with eagerness as every slight curtain movement or lighting change drew out a deafening scream from the fans. Phone cameras lit up the room as a brief moment of silence was broken by a big pair of digital lips that were projected onto the black curtain. The pre-recorded voice warmed up an already boiling venue before dropping the curtain dramatically to reveal the YUNGBLUD line up dressed in bright red and ready to go!
To continue the red theme, he opened with the Gen Z Punk Rock tribute 'Strawberry Lipstick' which was the perfect place to start for me. Over the course of his career he has transitioned from a young Indie-Rock artist with a bold Punk attitude into the self-assured poster boy of modern Alternative music. His latest album 'Weird!' does as the name suggests and dips in and out of a whole host of genres, yet it has helped YUNGBLUD lead the Emo Rock revival with its persistent nods to the likes of My Chemical Romance in tracks like 'teresa'. However, I thought that 'Strawberry Lipstick' was a great way to acknowledge the great English Punk and Rock history that has inspired Dom. It kicked off the show with an energetic, in-your-face swagger that set the tone just right with the electrifying guitar solo providing an early highlight.
'parents' followed and brought one of the most heartwarming moments of the show as he invited Liverpool's own Chloe Noone on stage to sing her own verse after her impressive Tik Tok duet with the track. It was a beautiful display of YUNGBLUD's incomparably close connection with his fans. He repeated throughout the night "this isn't me and you - this is us, we are a family" and as the evening progressed it really did feel like that. Everyone was united in a shared love of Dom, his music and the people around them. 'superdeadfriends' was probably the most hectic number of the night. Dom began by screaming "widerrr" to create a big open moshpit. His most ferocious vocal display followed as the huge drum sound brought this moshpit crashing together with a floor shaking power.
Anarchist 2018 vs 2021
He then took a quick detour into the early parts of his repertoire with 'I Love You, Will You Marry Me' and 'Anarchist'. The later was a significant indicator for me as it is one of the few tracks that has survived since the first time I saw YUNGBLUD live. Even though you could tell back at that Jimmy's show in 2018 that he was going to be something special it is still so heartwarming to see the difference in the two performances and the receptions they received.
He then returned to his newer releases. The bouncing energy of 'ice cream man' and the 90s Grunge love letter 'fleabag' both huge roars from the crowd. There was a slight moment of wondering how many of the young crowd picked up on the not-so-subtle Nirvana influences wrapped up in the track. Nevertheless the song has brought a dark and tempting Grunge atmosphere to the next generation and produced an impressive chorus of singing from the crowd. As they chanted out the words "I'm just a fleabag, nobody loves me. Send me to rehab, somebody touch me" I couldn't help look around and admire the love and unity that was radiating from stage and floor alike as everyone from 7 to 70 sang their hearts out with hands in the air.
This sense of unity was a mainstay for the set and it is what YUNGBLUD is all about. Whether you are fan of his music or not you can't deny that the diversity and inclusion of his fanbase is extraordinary. Around me I saw a dad with his two young daughters no older that 9, a couple of 20 somethings nodding in appreciation, groups of young teens sporting their colorful outfits and expressive make up and some fans over 40 by themselves scattered around the room. These are people that would never be in the same room together. Everyone their had such different lives and personalities yet they had all been brought together for one night and that is special. Uniting people through music is nothing new yet YUNGBLUD has managed to do this to an incredible extent, not only attracting a wide range of fans but also make every single one of them feel like they belong.
No song demonstrated this more than 'mars'. The punchy sing-a-long anthem talks of the struggles of trans girl and her battles with the people around her to be accepted. Yet, at its core it is a song about belonging, a feeling we all want but often struggle with. The lyrics "Do you feel like you're irrelevant" and "is there any life on mars" felt extremely poignant in the live setting. I could feel how deeply those words were connecting to the people around me and for me, it epitomised the night. The music was bright and colourful, at times fueled by a Punk energy and always heartfelt. Yet, what really stuck was the unity. It was a night that brought strangers together and demonstrated the powerful and wholesome elements of music as a culture.