Review: Yves Tumor @ Vivid Sydney at Carriageworks

Yves Tumor
David James Young is a music writer and podcaster, working in Wollongong on Dharawal land.

An act finally touring Australia well into their career can often serve as a double-edged sword.

By the time they're here, they're playing venues lacking in intimacy and may not be as inclined to play the music that got you into them in the first place.

On the other hand, however, it's worth taking to consideration that, by that same token, the live show that you're getting down under is the most fully-realised and well-oiled iteration – a confident, assured take on what they're capable of as performers.

It's with this framework that Yves Tumor step onto the Carriageworks stage in Sydney (10 June) to perform in Australia for the first time, nearly 15 years after the project originally began.

In a haze of flashing lights and electronic noise, the band kicks into the one-two punch of 'God Is A Circle' and 'Echolalia' – both stemming from last year's excellent 'Praise A Lord...' album.

Front-person and figurehead Sean Bowie is in full theatricality spec, sauntering from one side of the stage to another and giving nothing away behind dark sunglasses. To their left, new lead guitarist Maro Chon is relishing the fresh role – bringing a mix of Slash-style rockstar shredding and Prince-style flair in amidst the more experimental passages.

There are teething problems within the confines of Carriageworks' Bay 17 – a room that is not normally used for live music outside of Vivid season – as Bowie breaks the fourth wall to get sound problems fixed. "You've gotta cut out that feedback, it's crazy," they say before resuming their aloof persona to slink through set highlight 'Gospel For A New Century'.

Thankfully, the issue seems to be rectified therein – although it does point to a key peculiarity to the performance. Bowie presents themselves as an impenetrable fortress for the majority of the 65-minute show, only ever communicating to the audience in coughs.

It's got the potential to be completely off-putting, particularly for newcomers, but you also have to factor in the performance element and the overall aesthetic of the Yves Tumor project as a whole.

You're not coming to this sort of music for the accessibility and the warmth. Much like a reality TV show contestant, Yves Tumor aren't here to make friends. You simply have to pay the moxie more than anything.

Aside from choice cuts from 'Praise A Lord...', the band also offers up two new tracks for the audience: 'Conspiracy' and 'Misbehave'. The former is industrial-tinged art rock, with Bowie turning the titular word into a mantra-like chant over dizzying synth wobbles and a persistent, pounding drum beat.

The latter, meanwhile, picks up the tempo and offers a dark, flirty and unabashedly queer club banger. The fact it's not even out yet and elicits one of the biggest audience reactions of the night should indicate Bowie and co. are onto a winner.

As Bowie hops down onto the crowd barricade to perform set closer 'Ebony Eye', the fourth wall is torn down in a manner even Ronald Reagan would approve of.

Part cyberpunk odyssey, part post-punk revolution, part Purple Rain band sequence, an Yves Tumor show might not be for everybody – but you're not likely to find anything similar on the circuit right now, and that says a lot.

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