By James Peppercorn, MA English
One of the most interesting, eclectic and extraordinary acts around, Yves Tumor brought their full band live show to one of Bristol's best venues, Strange Brew.
Tumor’s music has been some of the most critically adored and genre-fluid to come out in the past decade. Ranging from looped electronica and ambient to pure noise collages then all the way to heavy glam rock, Tumor is impossible to pigeonhole. They have been one of the acts I personally have been most excited to see in the past couple of years, and by God did I have an experience to remember.
Playing two sold-out shows back to back across the one evening, Tumor and its band were ready to reopen a slinky, sexy, tortured cauldron of noise. I managed to catch the later show of the evening, which begun around about midnight. My initial thought was, ‘How the hell are they going to have enough energy to do this second show?’ Supported by the London based New Zealand band October and the Eyes, the energy was clearly just as powerful from the get-go. October ripped through a collection of heavy blues with steamrolling chaos. It was also great to see Tumor watching the support from the crowd, having a little downtime in-between sets. Their flamboyant and stunning style was on full display even before they walked onstage, traipsing around the venue in a fluffy scarf and colourful clothes.
When it is time to start the show, the lights go down and an ever-ascending noise collage plays for almost ten minutes before anyone walks onto the stage. While their band walks on stage, Tumor slinks like a supermodel on a runway, completely owning the room, wearing the pink scarf, tight top, underpants and a dyed blue wig. Nothing could be more spectacular or engrossing. I could happily stand and just watch Tumor move for hours. Blasting directly into their newest single ‘Jackie’, the venue is covered in glam rock noise with the crowd instantly getting going.
Followed in quick succession by ‘Romanticist’ and ‘Dream Palette’ off their extraordinary 2020 record ‘Heaven to a Tortured Mind’, the sound and light show begins to get more intense before opening up the whole show with the masterpiece ‘Gospel for a New Century’. ‘Gospel…’ tears the whole venue wide open, the mosh moving at pace, people throbbing to the beat, the whole place just manic. Tumor and its band continue to power through numerous songs off ‘Heaven…’ and most recent EP ‘The Asymptotical World’, turning almost every single one into a warped child of glam rock, noise and electronica.
During an especially rowdy performance of ‘…And Loyalty Is a Nuisance Child’, Tumor decides this is the best moment to do a tour of the crowd. Coming to the side of the stage that this writer is standing on, Tumor stretches out their hand to me, like the touch of God. I reach back, arms outstretched, only to have Tumor jump directly onto me. Their legs wrapped around my body, still singing along to the chaos happening behind them, my arms holding them up. In a complete state of confusion, I proceed to lower Tumor’s back towards the ground in an act of pure ballet. The crowd around me has moved away to leave me and Tumor in a moment of euphoria. As I lift Tumor back up, they let out a small laugh in my ear, a small kiss and proceeds to continue the song as they prowl the crowd.
It was at about this point that I don’t really recall a huge amount. I was too flummoxed and overpowered by this moment to really focus. I know they played ‘Kerosene’, I’m pretty sure they played ‘Noid’, two of my favourite songs from the past decade, however my mind had run off somewhere else. I was elevated, I was somewhere else. An idol of mine, a major influence, feeling so at home with the crowd, so at peace, there was nothing left to do but let the music overcome everyone in that room.
This reviewer had experienced an otherworldly gig which I’m still finding it hard to wrap my head around. It was loud, it was chaotic, it was totally and utterly biblical. Everyone should go and listen to their astonishing albums and then be drowned in the wave of their live shows. I don’t know if I’d seen anything like that before or if I will see anything like it again. But, as with everyone in that crowd, we will all have a new memory attached to the otherworldly and incomparable Yves Tumor.
Featured image: James Peppercorn
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