tUnE-yArDs (aka Merrill Garbus) opened her set with an acapella performance using loop pedals to layer up complex harmonies, African vocal techniques and at one point a wordless rap style syncopated section, not the average way to open a show but one that was as thrilling as it was unorthodox. Then she was joined by bassist/co-writer Nate Brenner and saxophonists Matt Nelson and Noah Bernstein-Hanley to kick off the set proper with the explosive duo of ‘ You Yes You ‘ and ‘Gangsta’ by which time the crowd began to loosen up and dance along. Then Garbus started an unexpected down-tempo section ‘Wolly Wolly Gong’ and ‘Fiya’ which was both affecting and showcased her and the bands skills at reinventing this material and creating new parts and dynamics for them.

Garbus took a brave move by playing the single ‘Bizness’ in the mid set and for a while I wondered if the gamble would pay off, it did due to both the quality of the bands performance and the that of the material they were playing. As they got deeper into the set older songs ‘Fiya’, ‘Youth’ and ‘For You’ were rejuvenated (in fact the all songs seem more alive than they can sometimes sound on record) and new song promised to continue Garbus’ development as a songwriter into more sophisticated shapes.

Though the band didn’t move much (Garbus was boxed in by mics, drums and loop pedals) the energy they transmitted to the audience was tremendous and the response was in kind with people dancing, swaying and even joining in with the bands synchronised pogoing during ‘You Yes You’. The band were uniformly dressed in brightly coloured t-shirts with matching hand bands, waist coasts/military jackets and painted faces.

Overall a great gig and personally I can’t wait to see what tUnEyArDs does next!

Liam Flanagan