Who decided to have a bouncy, party-based gig on the first warm night of the year? Sheeh, better planning next time, folks. With the sun just setting outside, the venue was about a third full when Brighton rockers Yonaka took to the stage. Judging from the crowd reaction, about three people knew them or their songs, but this didn’t stop them giving their all through about eight songs which got better as the set progressed.
It may have been because I was focussing (cough) on photo duties at the start, but I thought the first couple of songs were a little lacklustre. The band were giving it their all, but things weren’t quite hitting the mark for me. However, by the time I took a break the songs were improving, Yonaka looked a little more confident and the set was definitely perking up. “Drongo” and “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya” in particular let the band let loose.
Judging by the audience reaction this was felt by them also, and the applause as Yonaka approached the end of their set was sizeable and well-deserved. Finishing with “Fucking With the Boss”, Yonaka left to an admirable amount of cheering and clapping – impressive from a band that virtually nobody in the room had heard of thirty minutes earlier.
The main act were only a short wait away. The backing band strolled on one by one, rumbling a protracted intro before the man in white himself, the already sweaty Andrew W.K., bounded stage centre and kicked off with “The Power of Partying”, “Music Is Worth Living For” and “Ever Again”, all off new album You’re Not Alone – a brave start. The audience certainly seemed to take to the new material and deservedly so.
One thing was apparent, though, and that was that Mr W.K.’s voice was probably glad this was the last night of the tour. He could certainly belt them out, but in his between-song chats he was obviously a little hoarse.
We received a decent showing of the classic I Get Wet and The Wolf material, all of which sent the crowd wild. However, these belting party monsters were alternated with long musical interludes or slower numbers which stopped the gig from flowing. Just as the sweat began to pour, the next track gave it time to dry back up again. Not for a moment did the party crowd lose interest, but it was obvious that there was a lot more interest in the faster, more powerful numbers. I confess, my aging body probably appreciated the little rests but my young (or “immature”) brain wanted to continually let loose.
Despite this, hit with tracks like “I Get Wet”, “It’s Time to Party”, and the very popular “She Is Beautiful”, the audience went mad. Constantly moving pits, loads of bouncing and crowd-surfers aplenty released the energy provided by these classic numbers. I honestly cannot remember the last time I saw so much crowd movement at the Garage… except for perhaps the last time I saw Andrew WK there!
With a set spanning an almost 20-year career, and some well-phrased positive messages that genuinely came across as well-meant and not preachy, Andrew and the band proved to be great entertainers. If I had to pinpoint any member of the band for a special mention, it would be the bassist who managed to pull more funny faces during the ninety minutes than I would have thought is humanly possible. However, the whole lot – two lead guitars, one rhythm, the bass, drums and keyboards, plus Andrew WK on guitar and piano – made a fantastic racket from beginning to end.
It’s been a while since the last “full band” tour, but the comments I overheard as we (slowly, it’s the Garage) filtered outside were universally positive. A party was promised and one was truly delivered.
Photos by Iain Purdie