Words by Maddie Balcombe.
“What’s good on a Tuesday, Cardiff?” was the question that Yard Act’s frontman James Smith posed to an energetic audience as he first took to the stage in Cardiff’s iconic Clwb Ifor Bach. The answer seemed obvious… “Yard Act!” shouted the audience, almost in unison. This answer was not only obvious, but it was also extremely true. Both Yard Act, and support act Baba Ali, brought an electric energy into Clwb Ifor Bach, filling the intimate venue with an amazing atmosphere. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Tuesday night.
Yard Act are a British indie rock band from Leeds, consisting of four members: James Smith (vocals), Ryan Needham (bass), Sam Shjipstone (guitar), and Jay Russell (drums). They released their first album, The Overload, earlier this year and are currently undertaking their debut tour. The group formed in 2019, and have achieved a great amount of success since then; their album reached number 2 on the UK charts upon its release, and they’re scheduled to play at a number of impressive festivals – such as Coachella – in upcoming months. However, this prosperity doesn’t mean that Yard Act has forgotten where they’ve come from. James Smith spent moments of his set reminiscing on his previous visits to Cardiff and Clwb Ifor Bach, sharing amusing anecdotes that summed up the city to a tee. Smith held the attention of the audience in a way that I have never seen at a live music show before, listening carefully to each suggestion made by his fans and firing back genuine, quick-witted responses. Perhaps this level of audience interaction is an inevitable part of attending intimate gigs such as this one, or maybe it is just a testament to the incredible stage presence that James Smith possesses. I am inclined to believe that, in this case, it is the latter.
The hold that Yard Act had over their audience members wasn’t just limited to these conversational intervals, though. From the second they took to the stage, Clwb Ifor Bach came alive. A sea of pumping hands and banging heads broke out before me, the floor moving from the vibrations of the bass and the jumping of the crowd. Yard Act didn’t hold back, they treated us to all of their most-loved hits: Pour Another, Fixer Upper, The Overload, and Witness (Can I Get A?) to name a few. They even played 100% Endurance, a track they supposedly “only do for crowds we care about”. Yard Act have acknowledged that they attract a mixed audience because they “sound like bands from the past”, and in a way it certainly felt like we had been transported back to the past during their set. The whole room was fully immersed in the music, singing along and dancing carelessly, without a phone in sight.
It is safe to say that Yard Act have cracked the code to what makes a successful band. Despite only forming three years ago, the coordination of the group made it feel like they’ve been doing this for years. They kept the energy high throughout and ensured that a great night was had by all involved. Yard Act may be relatively new to the British music scene, but they certainly know how to put on a show.
Yard Act will be back in Cardiff on the 27th November, playing at The Tramshed. Get your tickets here!
Listen to The Overload here: