Yo La Tengo, Barbican, London

5.00

 

Life may not be a bed of roses, but a Yo La Tengo gig certainly is.

Separating the band from the audience at the Barbican on Wednesday night was an arrangement of blooms that extended across the front of the stage like an enclosure at the Chelsea Flower Show. A row of three trees positioned behind the musicians maintained the Nature theme. Not actual trees, but depictions in the style of cartoon cut-outs.

The set décor hinted at the playful, dreamlike aspects of YLT’s music, which has been keeping fans in its thrall for some 30 years now. And it did so again here – a laid-back melange of shuffling beats, guitar fuzz and vocal purity that featured many of the delights on YLT’s most recent album (their twelfth), 2013’s Fade.

The three-piece outfit from New Jersey – husband and wife Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley, with James McNew playing gooseberry – exuded the assurance of those who have been together a long time and know each other so well that live performance appears almost effortless. Theirs was a well-honed vision, and while the music was loose it was also precise.

YLT’s generosity of spirit was never compromised by their bursts of Zappa-like experimentalism, the band’s genius residing in the creation of a big sound that was also intimate and emotionally engaging. Kaplan was the droll, blasé frontman on guitar,  Hubley a retiring figure on drums whose sublime voice it would have been nice to hear more of.

McNew stood out for a different reason. He remained virtually static the entire evening until Kaplan and Hubley doubled up on drums and their bass player stepped forward to apply a certain menace to the heavily rhythmic “Our Way To Fall” from the album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-out.

YLT divided the evening into two halves – a “quiet” half and a “loud” half, but the difference in character between the two was not so great. Indeed, the lovely “Ohm” appeared in both sets. Stand-out moments included the wistful “I’ll Be Around”, with a Kaplan vocal that recalled Leonard Cohen; the tantrically uplifting “Before We Run”; the dense, reverb-drenched “Paddle Forward”; and a crisp version of Adam Ant’s “Ant Music”, which was YLT’s improbable tribute to London. I’d have thrown flowers on to the stage if I’d had any. Not that they would have been needed.

@SimonOHagan

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before