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A man possessed?: Youth Lagoon live in London

28 September 2015, 12:30 | Written by Sam Warner

Trevor Powers’ moniker Youth Lagoon has thrust the 26-year-old towards critical acceptance and granted him a small but devoted fan base.

Despite his age, he comes across more as a child in voice, his squeaky tones swirling round your head in a playful manner. But Powers’ general demeanour also adds something intangible and mysterious, in a similar fashion to Kate Bush.

The star has ditched the frustrated suburban kid look for a more Bowie-esque androgyny on his new album, Savage Hills Ballroom, and it complements the elegance and ambiguity of his music in a much more mature fashion. At his first London show at XOYO tonight (24th September) preceding the release of his LP Powers, his band take to the stage through hazy smoke, the lights creating a mystical effect (presumably a giant fuck you to people who plan to spend the evening watching proceedings through their smartphones). After all, the band is here connect organically.

The music takes hold in an instant with Powers’ command of melody powered up tenfold on stage as compared to his studio output. New material such as “Officer Telephone” and “The Knower” engross with their experimental flushes much harder than on record, and sit comfortably, if a little hesitantly, next to his earlier work. However, the crowd warms quickly to the new songs. Second song “Cannons”, from his debut The Year of Hibernation, provides the first fist pounding moment, transporting the audience to Youth Lagoon’s mystical realm with an infectious guitar line.

Despite having a laid-back demeanour, Powers is at moments utterly wild. During an instrumental halfway through, he steps away from his keyboard to the front of the stage and jumps up like a possessed child. Its symbolic of his music – the quiet buildup before an overwhelming overflow. Even with initial concerns about the room being too cramped, the artist makes the most of what space he has bar actually crowdsurfing.

Unfortunately, the crowd avoids belting along to Powers’ massive choruses, which are expertly crafted for such moments – perhaps due to the Savage Hills Ballroom heavy set, which dodges showing of fan favourites “17” and “Posters”. Nevertheless, the band returns for an encore with the soaring “Dropla” from Wondrous Bughouse. Powers paces across the stage as the song reaches it denoument with the refrain “you will never die”, pointing at members of the audience like a rambling preacher.

The singer chats with the crowd between some songs about how nice it is to be back in London. A brag about how much sleep he’s had – 14 hours in the past 18 – initially goes down like a pork pie at a Bar Mitzvah, with an audience member jokingly shouting “fuck you”; Powers returns it with “yes fuck me” naming the audience member Garth. Yet the artist’s charm wins the David vs. (Garth)liath match – after all, Powers has an arsenal of songs and a general oddness that would charm the pants off the most stone-hearted human.

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